Sunday, November 6, 2011

Teaser #9: “The Perceptive One.”

The original version of this story was written about 20 years ago.  It was 3,100 words long and was called, “A Torrent of Ages.”  Yeah, okay, I liked that title, but it sometimes confused the editors of the magazines I sent it out to.  I got my first rejection from this story, from Kristine Kathryn Rusch at Pulphouse.  At least she was kind in her words.

A few more rejections and a chunk of years locked into Music Journalism, time-warp to early 2006. I’d just completed my first novel during a furious rush at the end of 2005 (though it must be noted, a major revision happened earlier this year, one that really brought out an undercurrent of "something wrong"), and I still felt like writing something long, something with room to breathe, and I was going through old work, pieces of this and that, when I came across a printed out version of “Torrent...”  Reading it, I knew the idea was good, but it was lacking…something.  It needed something else.  It needed another character.  Hence, my introduction to Peg Saunders.

She was a character fully developed almost immediately; she was already there, ready to take the reins.  Her voice came so easy, her pain and deep understanding of people and the world around her, simple, direct.  Her reflective tone and perceptions added real depth as she looked back on incidents that changed not just her world, but that of a passing lover who was more than that: Travis Wayne.

Travis was all ego and strut.  He had goals he had no idea how to attain, but he didn’t care.  He expected much because of that ego and the evil undercurrent that prods such a monstrous outlook. 

What he got was what only such a corrupt soul could get: his just rewards.

But it doesn’t stop with that.  Because of Peg Saunders.  A woman you will come to care for, and you’ll feel her pain.

Here’s the beginning, to give you a taste of Peg’s voice, and a hint that her tale is not one filled with joy.


     I wrote this about Travis early in our relationship, a bit rough and poetic, but I think it captured the essence of who he once was:  “Lean, mean, quite obscene; tougher than a stick of beef jerky and cruder than a stiff breeze from the slaughterhouse.  Wheat-blond hair and the bluest eyes imaginable, like the sky had been polished and placed in his care; like the color of summer on a liquid glass ocean…” 

     My Travis.

     I loved him then and love him still.  But it’s different now, this love we have.  I have.  I don’t believe Travis loves anything at this point.  But that was partly the fault of his ego and the devious designs wrought by that ego that led him to the place he is in now.

     The rest of it was destiny, something I used to not believe in, but now it is all I know. 

     But I’m moving much too fast and there’s so much more to be told about the decisions and details that derailed those devious designs.  Two days in July, 1957.  That’s all it took to change our lives forever--no, that’s not correct.  That’s all it took to steer our lives along the paths they were always destined to travel. 

     The wretched paths, our wretched paths, entwined…     

The end of this one…if it does not dig deep and touch you, perhaps emotionally tear you apart, well…then I’ve not succeeded.  But, then again, it’s not me telling the story, it’s Peg, and trust me, you will feel her anguish.  Every time I read this one it tears me apart!

Also of note, when I revised and added about 8,000 words, it also had a different name.  “A Torrent of Ages” was replaced by, “The Oblivion Express,” a title quite appropriate for the tale Peg tells, but since it is her tale, she decided—along with a suggestion from my editor, hehe—that, “The Perceptive One,” was perfect.  And she was right; she would know, oh yes, she would know...

Next up, as we round the corner for the home stretch, we find out what one thing is closest to one man’s soul… 

Hieronymus Bosch's chaotic art relates perfectly to Travis' destiny.  You'll understand once you read "The Perceptive One."

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