Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Back when I didn't suck

Submitted for your... perusal: What follows is the first chapter of an uncompleted novel, written back in 1992. The "working title" was...
If Swallowed, Induce Vomiting
(However, that had nothing to do with the subject. Self-deprecation at its most abjectly deplorable.)

I won't elaborate on the overall story; I'll allow this to stand (or fall) on its own.

Chapter One

The boy sat at the edge of the octagonal, dark wood-paneled dining table, his left elbow resting on the table, supporting his left hand, which supported his left cheek, which, by means of molecular attachment, supported his entire head. His right hand supported a fork between the index finger, middle finger, and thumb. The fork varied between supporting cold pieces of asparagus and releasing them as the boy stabbed the vegetable and subsequently shook the fork until the captured morsel came loose and rejoined its green brethren on the plate. The boy had been repeating this activity, with some variation, since his mother and sister had finished eating their meals, approximately one hour and three microwave heatings before.

“So, Timmy, how are we coming?” his mother asked as she re-entered the small space attached to the kitchen (not in the same manner as the boy’s cheek to the rest of his head) where the boy and asparagus presently existed. She had allowed another ten minutes of solitude to the boy, in hope that the contents of his plate would have diminished since her last check.

The boy glanced at his mother, pivoting his head without removing his cheek from his hand, taking a deep breath through his nose and slowly exhaling.

“Oh, fine,” he eventually replied, returning his attention to his fork.

“I really don’t want to be the bad guy here,” his mother continued, “but you know the rules. I let you out of eating your beans last week--and I shouldn’t have done that--but I’m not letting up this time.”

The boy grew disinterested with his silverware and looked out the window to his right, noticing the middle-aged woman in the apartment across the alley dangling her husband out their third-story window--at least, it appeared to be her husband; he couldn’t make out much detail on this moonless night. He was fairly certain it was the same man she had held by the ankles last week, vaguely remembering similar screams. His gaze fell back on the plate. Picking up a knife, he began to dissect the asparagus for the fourth time, although his one-handed technique succeeded only in scooting the pieces into the gravy left over from the cube steak he had flushed down the toilet by sneaking it in his pocket during his two allotted bathroom visits.

“Would you like me to re-heat it... again?” his mother asked.

The boy shook his head, his cheek rolling along his palm.

“You might as well start putting it in your mouth, because I’m going to stand here until you do.” Pausing a moment, to inventory in her mind the phrases she had already used and come up with one not uttered since the previous evening, she added, “It’s not going to disappear by staring at it.”

Balancing his head back on his neck, the boy dropped his left arm to the table. He set down the knife. He began to grasp the fork.

The asparagus disappeared.

Every last particle of the vegetable had vanished. No ‘poof,’ no fade out. One second it was spread across the plate, and the next, nothing remained but tracks in the gravy.

The boy stared at the plate, intently, his fingers still lightly touching the fork’s handle.

His mother stared at the plate, intently. She rubbed her eyes. She glanced around the room. Cautiously, she bent down and looked under the table.

No asparagus.

The boy stared at the plate, intently, his fingers still lightly touching the fork’s handle. The corners of his mouth curled up slightly.

His mother touched the plate, bits of gravy sticking to her fingertips.

The screams of the dangling husband echoed between the buildings outside.

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