out of the ashes

Monday, June 28, 2010


I had a great weekend. I completed and first-edited 8. Very simple chapter; get Marvin out of the park and the downtown area, then get him to the Mission. So, I did.

I also started Nine. Sent it off to C for her reaction. I was dumbfounded by her remarks after she returned the doc. I won't quote her, but she seemed to like the few pages I'd written yesterday morning....umm, very much :) Thanks, Cherilyn. Thanks so much.

Well, here's 8, and a portion of 9


Marvin slipped behind a tree that was dense with leaves of light green, and with a thick trunk sporting an armor gown of rough, gray bark. He leaned against it, looking away from Colfax Avenue where the delivery truck driver and the cop stood hashing over the barely averted disaster that had nearly squashed him like a bug. His eyes beheld the columns of the amphitheater a hundred feet away bathed in colonnades of shadows and light, but the vision in his mind was fixed on the snapshot of the truck and the driver’s head visible above the cab. He searched his memory, trying to recall whether flipping off a cop was a misdemeanor. Yes, he thought, it had to be. If he was arrested, or even detained for rightly putting the cop in his place, precious minutes would slip away, and he would miss her.
He couldn’t go back yet. Neither could he risk making a run for the southern end of the park through the amphitheater. He closed his eyes and began to count; to buy a minute or two.
“One thousand and one, Colorado. One thousand and two, Colorado. One thousand and three, Colorado…”
One thousand two hundred-twenty three Colorados later he turned and peered out, clenching the rough bark of the tree with all ten fingers. The right eye emerged first, and then the left, very slowly. He was good at this game of hide and seek, having had a king’s ransom of practice over the years.
The truck was gone. The patrol car was gone. He hoped—it was all such a blur.
Damn! Gotta’ do somethin’ about you guys…

Traffic along Colfax Avenue was thickening, and pedestrians seemed to appear out of nowhere, stepping out of city buses, rounding corners, flooding into the maze of buildings like hoards of little ants crawling over one another with money-making seeds in their pincers. From somewhere in the distance a clock in a bell tower chimed eight times.
DAMN! No time to lose. Legs, let’s get movin’!
He darted across the soft green lawn toward the street light years away, running the scenario through his head.
Amy…that’s your name, right? I’m Marvin. You don’t know me…well, yes ya’ do, but you don’t realize it yet.
He huffed, starting to gasp a little for more air. Fifty light years lay behind him, only fifty more to go.
He saw that she was not going to slap him and run away. He continued, walking beside her through the throng of people on the sidewalk.
Oh, no, don’t pay no attention to how I’m dressed. I got better clothes back home…
She suddenly eyed him with suspicion, indignity, and disinterest. How could she not help looking at his shitty trench coat, his filthy tee-shirt and trousers, and his bare feet? She began to lengthen her stride. He was losing her.
Tell it like it is. Just cut to the chase.
Hey, you don’t know it yet, but you and me are gonna’ get married. I…I… This was the hard part. I’m in love with you, Amy, whatever your last name is.
That made her stop. It most assuredly did. He felt her beautiful little hand crash into his cheek before she muttered something foul-sounding. And then she rushed off.
Marvin arrived at the street and bent over with his hands on his thighs to catch his breath.
That weren’t so good. Think, Marvin.
He focused on the problem at hand instead—getting back across the busy street without a replay in reverse, with a tragic ending this time. He did not want to find himself searching, waiting forlornly for her, with a set of wings flapping in the morning air. As he waited with his toes flexed on the edge of the curb for a break in the parade of cars and trucks, he wondered why angels needed wings at all? Who dreamt that up?
Who cares.
Oh God, make her late…just enough so’s I can catch a glimpse of her. That goddam cop.
Sorry, didn’t mean that. The goddam part, anyway.
Casper the Friendly Ghost don’t have wings…

The eastbound traffic died at the light and he took off, only to be stopped at the center of the street by the westbound rush of cars. An empty McDonald’s wrapper wadded up into a ball came zinging out of nowhere and struck him in the nose. The driver of the Toyota sedan who had thrown it waved out the window at him and went his way, amused at the insult.
“Yeah, go ahead and laugh at me. Go ahead. But I’m gonna’ do great things startin’ pretty soon here. You’ll see.”
Marvin waited impatiently as the westbound traffic crawled past him, and the eastbound kicked into gear again, whizzing past his rear end like shining buzzsaws. He felt the little whirlpools of air climb up his legs, begging him to take a step backward. Eventually, as the long minute hand of the clock spun forward at a dizzy pace, he reached the other side and walked through the line of men and women to the spot he had occupied half an hour ago. They gave him wide berth, as if he carried the plague.
He took his place outside the women’s boutique, scanning the faces that went by. Ten minutes elapsed alongside a hundred different complexions; beautiful, some were—handsome, plain, laughing, well-dressed or casual. Amy was not among them. He had missed her. But, just as well. He let his eyes fall to his clothing and his bare feet, that for all he knew stank.
I need some new clothes. By God, I’m gonna’ clean myself up and come back here tomorrow. When she sees me again I’ll look like Clark fuckin’ Gable! No, Errol Flynn. Yeah, him.
Marvin moped away in the direction of the street once again. Disconsolate, and yet happy that he had evaded a set of handcuffs and hadn’t gotten smashed under a truck. Happy that soon he would be transformed into a movie idol. How could Amy not fall headlong into his arms then?
Christ Almighty, Clark Gable…he was uglier’n a mudpost! Flynn. Yeah, that’s me…
Unbeknownst to Marvin Fuster, Mr. Errol Flynn had passed on thirty-one years ago. He was physically just a pile of bones now. Somewhat less than Marvin, but not by much.
Imagination, my good man. Imagination.


Marvin returned later that day with a new sense of purpose to the place he loathed more than the inside of any confessional. The Salvation Army Mission on Tenth Avenue and Bannock. It was only six blocks away from Civic Center Park, and had many years ago been a large private residence covering two full-sized city lots, plus another fifty feet on one side where lawn and flower beds and Weeping Willow trees grew in wild abandon. The Army purchased it a dozen years ago after the eccentric widow—a certain Mrs. Marybelle Stump who maintained it like a macabre Hollywood movie set—finally left the world for supernatural parts unknown.
An hour after sitting through the reading of the will, her smiling heirs promptly threw it into the hands of a real estate broker, who promptly threw it out to the public listed as “…one of Denver’s finest, charming old haunted houses, with a view of the Pacific.” He meant Rockies.
No one of the Army believed in ghosts, although they were certain, to a Major, that God existed, that He had a Son, and that the Son desired them to buy and renovate the ramshackle dwelling (the home of rats and spiders and cockroaches…and ghosts). They were intrigued, also, by the promise of a stunning view from the balcony facing west.
The overgrown lawn, the trees that bent their limbs clear to the ground, and the weed-infested flowerbeds disappeared soon after the new spiritual owners got their hands on the deed. The dilapidated wrought iron fence encircling the corner lot was ground up into a huge rusty ball and carted off to the dump.
Inside, moldy carpet was whisked away revealing solid oak floors beneath. A host of memory-laden doors with children’s names etched into the edges and on the six inch-wide casings were treated to sledgehammers, and then lugged away in splinters. Lathe and plaster walls fell in storms of dust, and in their place a grand central dining/Gospel room emerged, complete with speckled linoleum tiles that a battalion of indigents could not possibly damage. And a wooden pulpit.
The pulpit stood imperially, despite its plainness, dead center of the room at one end, between a pair of grand windows that had once belonged separately to two of the six bedrooms of the house, before the wall dividing them was unceremoniously removed. A King James Version of the Bible sat prominently on the top of the pulpit, and it was opened and read from by the major in charge of those souls whose bellies he and his staff had just filled—three times each day. The same as any of the great preachers of old would have done in his stead.
The issue for Marvin: if you ate here in the cafeteria, you were obliged to listen to the word of God—and it sometimes included the dreaded book of…
Numbers !
…wherein, “…of the children of…” quickly lost all meaning, except for biblical scholars and genealogy sleuths, of which very, very few sat in the folding chairs in front of the Major. It did not seem to bother the Major during any of these readings that the snoring was often louder than the spoken word of the Almighty.
Marvin tactfully entered the front doors at 4:45. The Men’s shower would most likely be silent, and another hour would pass before the dinner bell rang…
(c) Patrick Sean Lee-2010

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