I keep saying to myself, "Okay, you're there...just get Marvin into the mansion. He has to steal a suit of clothes, burn down the clothing store, and then get run over by Mare.
I'm pretty certain I'm going to abandon the clothing store caper and Maribeth running over him. Too, too juvenile. I have another idea.
Almost there, almost.
Here's the first draft of Ten, first few pages. It's rough, still. Unclear images. T liked it very much, and she's a hard critic, thank God.
Esmeralda reacted first, moving in place, like the vibration of a perfectly tuned and taut violin string until she snapped, which sent her flying in four directions at once. Her delicate arms and hands were a blur as they snatched the trousers, the boxers, the tee-shirt and trench coat in a singular movement that would have made an electron blush with envy.
Marvin stood galvanized momentarily—in reality only a half second. He had no real fear of the Major, in fact, a disdain for him, but on the other hand he saw nothing pleasant in greeting a uniformed man six inches taller than himself dressed like a newborn baby. How would he shake his hand?
Esmeralda was at the narrow window by the time Marvin forgot his nakedness, raised his arms into the sprinters position, and dashed forward. She had the sash raised and the clothes and towel thrown out long before Marvin arrived shaking his head ferociously.
“No!” as softly as he could scream.
“Yes!” This uttered in a whisper, but with an emphatic movement of her lips that projected it as powerfully as a diva’s leap to the highest note. All the while her arms and hands were that locomotive blur, urging him on, and her face as stony-terrified as a bas relief on a sepulcher. The tension was infectious—even the little stick men’s faces on her gown were etched in terror.
The open window was little wider than a mouse door. God knows what lay outside. It could be dirt. It could be weeds. It could be a pile of broken liquor bottles. If that were not enough, the windowsill was four feet off the floor. Even at eighteen years old, a clean exit at full stride would have required months of training and a hundred stitches along the way. He stutter-stepped at three feet away.
Hail Mary, full of…
And he leapt.
Marvin cleared the sill in a diver’s pose; head lowered, arms outstretched and pointing, eyes closed tight at the last second. He cleared the sill with the half of him that ended at his stomach, that is. Physics demanded a higher velocity, a body knifing straight and level at mach 1. When he hit, there was a loud sound. Air escaping from a punctured tire. A Phooomph! And a frightening paralysis as his lungs tried helplessly to obey the frantic messages from his brain to reinflate.
Esmeralda reacted to Marvin’s tragic miscalculations as though she’d swallowed the mouse. The unexpected, the unthinkable, her Marvin laid out like a slab of uncooked bacon there on the edge of the frying pan. She quickly regained her composure and took hold of his ankles. With a grunt, she heaved upward and tossed him out, into the fire.
The window slid back down before he landed.
He prepared himself in that split second as he tumbled breathless, head under heels, for impact. Jagged glass, at best. The remains of a weed, the thick stem hacked off six inches above the ground, waiting to enter his back and pierce his heart.
Something quite unexpected happened instead.
He slowed, the gentle press of something that felt like fingers on his buttocks and back acting as a brake. More than the sensation of slowing, the electric-like tingling from whatever it was on his bare skin stunned him as surely as if he had fallen onto live wires. He opened his eyes, glancing to his right where the appendages and the jolt seemed to originate. What he saw rocked him even more. For a fleeting instant the run of trees fifteen or twenty feet away at the property line disappeared in the outline of a shimmering body, a mirage of luminescence shot through with gold. Marvin saw a face, and in the face a myriad of eyes, sapphire and emerald and ebony, set behind long, thin lashes, moving at random, independent, up and down his body. He might have mistaken them for a simple illusion of fright except for the length of sparkling hair falling down in the forward leaning of the creature’s torso. It was a creature, there was no doubt in his mind; the definitions of a face, the hair, the shoulders and broad, ivory-colored chest. But the most astonishing of all of it, this apparition, this—thing—had enormous white wings that rose and spread as he lay Marvin down in the grass.
He lay for a moment in the soft green, straining to make sense of it, to comprehend the impossible, feeling the nerves in his body still racing from the touch of it. His eyes were locked on the angel, on Anselm, though he could know nothing of what was really happening to him.
His wings, an angel’s glory, like those of a Peregrine or a Golden eagle. Perhaps this feature, this fluctuating, menacing possibility of power, mesmerized the naked man lying on his back in the grass most thoroughly.
Anselm shifted and spread them fully as he began to move slowly away from Marvin. The indigent’s mouth fell open at the sight of it, and he drew in a deep convulsive breath as though it was the first of his life. He could see clearly, perfectly, in that second that lasted infinitely, the lights of Anselm’s eyes twinkling like teardrops on a Christmas tree, his lips forming words without sound.
He backed away, speaking, speaking, smiling. He rose upward, a mist congealed into awe-filled form that passed through the branches of the trees and caused them to rustle and glow. And then he disappeared.
Marvin stared in a trance, that state of bewilderment of primeval man visited by gods in shadowy forests, or late at night in showers of meteors. The thread inside him began to squirm and coil and posit possibilities. ADD It was the voice of the angel; the words he had spoken that had no sound. No vibration through the air?????
Marvin Fuster, what if…?
This is what you are to do...
This is where you will go...
She is here, and we are watching her.
Desire. Imagination. Faith.
Amy’s angelic face was intertwined in the lilting melody of prodding questions and instructions, wrapped by a dress of figures and motifs, something like Esmeralda’s, but colored instead with impossibly long and complex numbers, square roots, to the hundredth powers, symbols…genetic code. She was dressed in his youth.
(c) 2010, Patrick Sean Lee