Prologue - Diary of an escaped con

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Philabuster
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Prologue - Diary of an escaped con

Post by Philabuster » August 31st, 2011, 2:13 pm

WARNING: This excerpt is about 1600 words long. I know I know, that's really pushing the limits for how much I can hold somebody's attention on a forum. But I'm really curious as to how it reads and for any other feedback. I'm very excited about this book...and since these are the crucial opening pages...I would like to feel confident that they rock! The story is about a 22 year old man who got sentenced for 18 years in 1920. My biggest concern is that the lingo is authentic for what a 22 year old man might be saying in 1920.

Genre: Historical Fiction (this is based off true events)



Highway robbery, assault and battery - with intent to kill.

That was the charge. I suppose that they got that right. Given the opportunity, I woulda killed the fucker. Given the opportunity, I woulda cracked his head open against the pavement for even thinking about what he was thinking about.

Fucking my wife.

Given the opportunity, I woulda treated him like we treated those damn Germans. When one of em found his way on the wrong side of a trench, we would beat him all over his body with the butt end of our rifles. Everywhere except for his face. Sure, eventually we would destroy whatever good looks he may have had, but the last thing we wanted to do was knock him out before we had our fun. If he was out cold then he wouldn’t be able to feel the steel against his legs and chest, or taste the blood as his teeth banged together with every punch and kick. No, beat him first. Beat the snot out of him, until his spirit is broken, until he no longer screams out in pain, until he no longer braces himself. Once that happens, then you knock him out.

And then you kill him.

And that’s what I woulda done to this drunk dick sucker who had the gall to put his dirty hands all over my wife. That’s what I woulda done, given the opportunity.

It was about mid afternoon. I remember because the sun hung high in the sky and everyone’s shadows were at their smallest. As bright as it was that day, I remember it being colder than a priest’s dick. The wind whipped it’s way down the streets, knocking off hats and forcing everyone to walk with their head pointed down. I had just left Hank’s general store when it all happened. I remember I had the bag of nails in my left hand and the brand new hammer in my right. Our baby had just turned one year old last week, and the kid needed a new crib. We had hitched a ride on the train to go downtown together, me, the wife, and the kid. I hadn’t worked in about five days. I figured I could get the wood I needed from a neighboring forest. It was partly owned by Robert McGlinchey, but he would never notice a couple of small trees missin’. I would cut down the trees and saw them up. Then I would hammer the pieces together and there ya go. A brand new crib. It was our only choice. After the nails and hammer I was down to my last twenty six cents.

I had just rounded the corner, and was headed to the park. I saw her from a distance. I saw her struggling to get away from and older man in a nice lookin’ suit. I ran towards her as she twisted her body around to escape the hold of this man.

“Hey!” I shouted as I ran. “Hey, get offa her! Hey you hear me! Get offa her!”

The man let go and turned towards me. I must have been one hell of a sight. My clothes were dirty and stank of oil and coal. My face was red from running, and also from the cold. I never was a big man. Only five feet seven inches at the time, about 140 pounds. I probably looked like a pansy. I probably looked like a man who could get pushed around. This man looked like anything but. About six feet tall, broad, and well fed as shown by his portly belly swinging along with every turn he took. He wore a very expensive striped suit that was worth more than all of my worldly possessions put together. I could smell the whiskey on his breathe from where I was standing. With one look at me, he began to laugh out uncontrollably.

“Hehe, my good man. One thousand apologies for the mistake.” He boasted as he flung out a large money clip out of the left breast pocket of his jacket. He fanned through the bills as if everyone’s eyes in the park weren’t watching. Counting twentys and tens and fives as fast as I could I quickly summed up the total amount to be around two hundred dollars. “Your woman seems to warm me up inside. What’s it going to take for her to warm me up on the outside. Something to the tune of...let’s say...five dollars?”

That’s when it happened. That’s when my whole life changed. I coulda stopped it, sure. I coulda turned around and grabbed my wife and walked back towards the train station. We coulda rode home and then I coulda chopped down a tree and sawed up the wood and built a crib for our baby. We coulda talked about how we hated going downtown for the very reason that I was staring in the face. Sure I coulda done all that. But I would be a liar. A couple of years back, I got inked up on my left forearm. A large red and blue dagger piercing a heart that read “Death before Dishonor”. Even looking at that artwork to this day boils my blood inside. It’s who I am. It’s what I stand for. I couldn’t have just walked away. I would be a liar if I did. And I aint no fucking liar.

I squeezed the hammer in my hand till I could sense the grooves in the wood. Fucked off adrenaline, I could feel the little splinters off the wooden handle start to engrave themselves into my inner palm. I dropped the bag of nails and leaped forward, smacking the prick against the right side of his face and then, before he knew what hit him, I came back around again, smacking the left side. Blood spurts out in every direction as if i had just used this very same hammer on a tomato. My wife starts pulling my coat, pleading with me to follow her but I barely hear her. All I see is him. All I see is him as he falls down to the ground, the blood covering his face that is already starting to swell. The expensive suit, now covered in stains. The money clip, now on the ground. I can’t think of what to say, so I don’t say anything. My wife pleads, practically tearing the cloth at the seams, but I still don’t see her. It’s only until I hear our baby start to cry when I turn around. Tears are streaming down both of their faces, but before I embrace her and tell her I love her, before I explain why I had to take a hammer to that man’s face, I see the silhouette of several police officers headed our way. Quickly, I bend down and pick up the money clip, giving me one more opportunity to hammer his face, which was one opportunity I refused to pass up. I strike the hammer down so hard I can hear what I think to be his skull crack. Satisfied, I dropped the hammer before turning back to my wife, who was still pleading with me to go with her. My hands grab onto her arms, I’m trying to calm her down but she’s hysterical. I didn’t have much time. I tell her that if anybody asks, that she doesn’t know me. I pull the bills out of the clip and crumble them into her hands. Then I drop the empty clip on the ground, hoping that the police wont suspect the money missing, and that they wont go looking for it. I ended up getting half my wish, the only half that mattered. Then I kissed her as passionately as I have ever kissed anybody in my entire life before pulling away to look at her one more time. One last time. Of course I had no way to know at the moment that this would be the last time I ever looked at my wife. If I had known that, I probably would have stayed there longer.

But I didn’t, so I darted away, down the street and around the corner. I could hear the footsteps of the cops chasing me. They weren’t far behind. I side step left to try to lose them down an alley way. The brick facade of the building is the last thing I see before my head slams down onto the dirt road. One of the cops had already met me there. With his stick out I had ran into it at full speed, stopping me dead on my feet. I was only semi conscience, but enough to know that I was being put under arrest.

I look back on that day many times since it all happened. This was the day where everything changed. I knew it. I knew it from the moment that they strapped the cuffs onto my wrists and dragged me away. I’ve replayed it every day when I was locked up, with every replay changing it slightly. This time making a right instead of a left. Or maybe staying straight. Fuck it, it doesn’t really matter. The only thing I really would have changed is smacking that asshole in the face with the hammer. Given the opportunity, I would have pounded his chest first, before moving to his oversized belly. Or maybe I would have knocked his balls clear off, smashing them down onto the ground as if they were nothing but a pair of eggs. Taking the hammer to his sausage to go with that nut omelet. Given the opportunity, I would have broken each one of his fingers, before breaking each hand. Same with the toes and feet. Yea, that’s what I woulda down If I had the chance to do it all over again. That’s what I woulda done, given the opportunity.

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GingerWrite
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Re: Prologue - Diary of an escaped con

Post by GingerWrite » September 6th, 2011, 5:55 pm

The one thing that jumped out at me was that you switched tenses. You'd be in past tense and then switch to present. Also, you might want to have a few more paragraph breaks, just to separate action. That, however is just a personal preference. Otherwise it looks like an interesting beginning to a story.
"The more you read, the more you know. The more you know, the more you grow." - Dr. Suess
Worlds can grow and crumble beneath a writer's pen. We just need to find the right one.
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bforlenza
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Re: Prologue - Diary of an escaped con

Post by bforlenza » September 7th, 2011, 9:05 am

Agree with Ginger about the switching of tenses. Makes it inconsistent. But with that said, I found myself reading and finishing. Good premise, just needs to be polished and tightened as there are also many unnecessay words, and repeating of the same thought....Good luck..

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Philabuster
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Re: Prologue - Diary of an escaped con

Post by Philabuster » September 7th, 2011, 8:00 pm

Thanks for the insight!

Yes, I do have a problem with staying focused, which is something I'm working very hard on to correct.

MZ Pike
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Re: Prologue - Diary of an escaped con

Post by MZ Pike » September 8th, 2011, 5:30 pm

The premise, setting, and pov are all things that I feel are not as explored as they could be... so good work on creativity.

I agree with Ginger and bforlenza that the tenses could use some help, and that there's a lot of polishing that needs to be done here.

If you're worried about your POV character sounding authentic, then I'd suggest checking out a few movies from around the time period, and also some books not in the same setting, but written in the actual time period. Research is tough, but there's no getting around it when you want the voice and characters to be just right.

Still, I feel like you've told us a great deal about the character in just a small excerpt - obviously, he's got a killer temper (rimshot), yet he cares about his wife and child a lot. But one thing that kind of made me pause was what you had him doing before he committed the crime. Sneaking into a lumber yard to chop down a tree and sawing it to pieces doesn't sound like something you could be sneaky about. A few lines about whether he's doing it because he's desperate and can't afford that crib, or doing it just because he thinks it's easier to go take the wood he needs would go a long way toward defining whether the guy we're taking a ride with is a good guy who had a bad moment, or a guy who sorta had it in him all along. I think your imagery of him being Joe Average coming back from a hard job to strike at the rich bastard was excellent stuff, though. Keep that kind of dynamic, definitely.

simonmabee
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Re: Prologue - Diary of an escaped con

Post by simonmabee » September 22nd, 2011, 3:57 am

Instead of Germans at the time he likely would have referred to them as Fritz, Huns, Heinie, Kraut, or Boche (but that was mostly french. Maybe Jerries but that was more WWII though saw some in WWI since they did introduce the helmet style in late WWI.

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Philabuster
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Re: Prologue - Diary of an escaped con

Post by Philabuster » September 22nd, 2011, 2:25 pm

simonmabee wrote:Instead of Germans at the time he likely would have referred to them as Fritz, Huns, Heinie, Kraut, or Boche (but that was mostly french. Maybe Jerries but that was more WWII though saw some in WWI since they did introduce the helmet style in late WWI.
Thanks!

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