out of the ashes

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Dance of Patrick and the Spiral Virgins


It’s up! It’s not yet available in print, but in another few days it will be, and as I said at Facebook, I’m so proud of it. 
Erik is going to create a webpage for me for my author status; I need one, and I’m admittedly an idiot when it comes to computer technology. I’m going to have to shout pretty loudly in order to let, not just my faithful friends, but the world know that Marvin is waiting to delight them. He was, character-speaking, my first child, having been born as he was in a short book I wrote in the early 80s, lol. Just a bum in that one. There was something about him though. A possibility, and so I resurrected him and gave him an impossible quest. This time around I surrounded him with a wondrous supporting cast, and oh my God did I bleed in order to get the book just right. I’m STILL not entirely satisfied with my crucial opening chapter (number ten thousand, I swear), but I achieved what needed to be achieved…get him into the hospital so that he could meet Anselm, the angel, in an environment that smelled real, and through his unconsciousness, get him into the dream of Amy. Thus could begin his quest, watched over by the angel.

One of my major successes in writing the book was Chapter Nine. I’ll share a portion of it with you here. Trish and Cherilyn were working with me at the time, and for whatever reason, my muse came to full birth.
Marvin is out of the hospital, out of the clutches of a cop who wanted to arrest him for vagrancy (he’d seen Amy downtown earlier, and had come back to wait for her to pass…). In a flash of inspiration he has decided to go to The Salvation Army and clean up, and then go steal some decent clothes so that the next time he sees Amy...:)



Chapter Nine


           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 flowerbeds and Weeping Willow trees grew in wild abandon. The Army had purchased it a dozen years ago after the eccentric widow—a certain Mrs. Maybelle 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 ocean view from the west-facing balcony.
           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 jamb 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 an army (so to speak) of indigents could not possibly damage. 
           And an unornamented 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 were 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 p.m.  The Men’s shower would most likely be silent, and another hour would pass before the dinner bell rang.  All he needed to do was slide down the long hall to the admissions desk, wink at Ms. Garcia (who, he imagined, would be manning her post behind it until the Lord either returned, or said phooey to the whole Second Coming idea), and show her how filthy he was.  That would be easy enough.  Despite his feelings for the mission in general, he had always gotten on marvelously with the attractive little woman.  A few times, too marvelously.  Though he knew she was quite…no, somewhat religious (A Roman Catholic, of all things, he discovered during the second season of his stay), she sometimes let her tongue slip while working away at the desk behind the counter.  He caught her muttering one day—a colorful expletive in four letters.  F-Major.  The bond between them was born at that instant, and in those leaden days, when fools roamed the halls expounding on every stupid thing under the sun, he visited her at her station frequently for reality checks.  Duets of questionable grammatical taste that began andante, and when he was lucky, ended adagio sensuoso.
           He liked her.

(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2012

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