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10 The Woods – The Inspection is over (2015) by LV Gaudet

1The Woods:

1 – The Woods – The Dare (1985)

2 – Thirty Years Later – The Old Bennet House is for Sale (2015)

3 – The Woods – Jesse Hears a Noise (1985)

4 – The House – First Entry in 30 Years (2015)

5 – The Woods – Return to the House (1985)

6 – The Woods – Inspecting The House (2015)

7 – The Woods – Return to the House (1985)

8 – The Woods – Inspecting the Bedrooms (2015)

9 – The Woods – Kevin Escapes the Tree (1985)

 

2015

 

The buyer has had enough of this morbid shrine to those who are no longer here.

“Is there a basement?”

The realtor pauses, thinking about it.

“I should have read the file on this place,” he thinks, dismissing it almost as quick. The commission wouldn’t be worth the extra time. He thinks fast. Do the other houses in the area from the same period have basements? As far as he remembers some do, some don’t. Some have only a crawl space or a partial basement, an area dug out just large enough for the furnace and hot water tank. He has about a seventy-thirty chance it has at least a partial basement.

“I think so. Yes, it does.”

If he’s wrong, it won’t matter after the auction if this guy bites. If he bites.

“You never did say if you are married, have a family. Do you have any kids? There’s a school not far from here. Playground too. It’s an older neighbourhood, but things circle around, as they say. You know, circle of life and that sort of thing. New neighbourhood, young families move in and have kids, fill up the neighbourhood with kids. The kids grow up and move out, have their own kids. The neighbourhood gets old, fills with grandparents and empty nesters, no more kids around. The school gets empty. But eventually people move out, go into nursing homes, and new families move in. You get a new cycle of young families moving in and having kids. Lots of kids around again. Circle of life. This neighbourhood is in a rejuvenation phase, lots of new younger families moving in.”

“That’s not what they mean.”

“About what?”

“Circle of life. That’s not what it means.”

The realtor is a little annoyed at being corrected. He pushes past it, just wanting to get out of there. He finds the house a bit unsettling. He has better things to do too. The game is on this afternoon and he could be sitting on the couch with a beer watching it.

“You know, if you want this house you could probably skip the auction. The thing is, with an auction, there’s the risk someone will outbid you.

Whatever you are planning to bid, just make an offer now. I think I could convince them at the municipal office to take the offer.  We can go draw up the paperwork right now.”

If this buyer has spent this much time walking around, checking the place out, and hasn’t made any disgusted faces or disparaging remarks, there has to be some interest. If he can pin him down now with a formal offer, he won’t have the time between now and the auction to change his mind.

He makes his move, leading the buyer out of that grisly bedroom with its appalling bedding and towards the door.

They reach the living room, so close, only steps away from the exit.

“So, where’s the basement?”

The realtor falters. “The basement?”

“I’d like to see it.”

“Damn,” the realtor thinks, “more time wasted.” He fights the urge to glance at his watch. Looking at the time makes a buyer feel rushed, as if they aren’t as important a something else. It doesn’t matter what else. It can lose the sale. He loses, glancing at his watch and hoping the buyer doesn’t notice.

He looks around. He has no idea where the basement is. It’s not a large house, so the options are limited. He remembers seeing a closed door in the hallway and another in the kitchen. Halls have closets, kitchens have pantries, and kitchen broom closets were not uncommon for houses built when this house was. It’s fifty-fifty.

He turns to the hallway. The buyer follows.

The realtor opens the closed door they had walked by earlier.

“Linen closet.” He nods as if he meant to show him the closet, doubling back to lead the way to the kitchen. The buyer dutifully follows, letting the realtor be in charge despite his lack of usefulness.

They enter the kitchen and the realtor looks around. The buyer spots the door immediately, but it seems to take the realtor minutes of checking the kitchen out.

The buyer looks at the door, but makes no move to touch it. In the time they have spent in the house, he has touched only one thing, the comic book.

He just stands there staring at the closed door, waiting for the realtor to notice it, as if he somehow is loath to touch the house.

Finally seeing the buyer staring at the door, the realtor realizes it is there and pounces.

He opens it with a small flourish. “The basement.”

The buyer peers down into the darkness swallowing the bottom of the old wooden stairs.

The realtor looks at the buyer, hesitates, and then leads the way down.

The stairs creak under their weight. They can feel the slight sag of the wood with each step. For a moment, the realtor imagines the rotting wood giving way and falling to be injured below. He grabs the railing, but it proves to be less stable than the stairs.

They reach the bottom of the stairs and the realtor is more than happy to get off the rotting wood steps. They look around.

The basement is not in complete blackness. There is no electricity to the home, so there are no lights to turn on. The small grimy basement windows allow some light into the gloomy basement. It’s the typical lower middle-income family home basement.  Crude cement walls and floor, cracking where the years of weather shifting the home caused weak spots to split, are dull and adorned only with shelves and items hung for storage. The unfinished basement is storage for old things the family chose for whatever reason to sentence to the basement rather than throw away.

It is infused with a vague eeriness as basements, particularly unfinished ones, will be.

The buyer steps forward, his shoe making a dull scraping sound on the concrete floor. He shows more interest inspecting the basement than he did the rest of the house.

“He’s looking for something.” The thought flashes through the realtor’s mind. He pushes it away. Silly nonsense.

The realtor moves forward, roaming the basement and pointing out the obvious, trying to make conversation in the too quiet cellar.

“Furnace, hot water tank. They look old, but I’m sure they’re serviceable enough. There’s no rust or water stains on the concrete around the hot water tank, so it looks solid. Probably hasn’t leaked. It has been thirty years though, so you might want to drain it and flush it out a few times before using water from it.

He pictures the sludge that is probably filling the tank right now. Black and slimy with long dead algae that bloomed and ran out of oxygen and died. Putrid and rotted to nothing but oozing black slime. The stench will be foul.

“The basement floor is a bit heaved up, but not too bad considering the house has sat abandoned for thirty years. Check the foundations and the weeping tiles. With proper drainage it might just settle down flat again. You could fix up this basement, finish it, and double your living space.”

“I’ve seen enough.” The buyer heads for the stairs, leaving the realtor to tag behind, taking the lead for once.

“Are you ready to make an offer?” The realtor asks hopefully. “Like I said before, you can make an offer now, skip the auction, and scoop this place up before anyone else can. You aren’t the only one I’m showing this place to. I have someone else coming to look at it later too.”

The lie rings hollow, both on his lips and in the buyer’s ears.

“I’ll let you know,” the buyer says, dismissing the realtor as he heads out the door.  He pauses on the way to his car to take one last look towards the backyard where the yard meets the woods.

 

Follow The Woods installments

 

L.V. Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are and The McAllister Farm
where the bodies are

 

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions? Find out in Where the Bodies Are.

 

The McAllister Farm-cover 1

Take a step back in time to learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are:  The McAllister Farm reveals the secrets behind the man who created the killer.

 

Link to purchase these books by L.V. Gaudet

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

 

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

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LV Gaudet, author

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9 The Woods – Kevin Escapes the Tree (1985) by LV Gaudet

1The Woods:

1 – The Woods – The Dare (1985)

2 – Thirty Years Later – The Old Bennet House is for Sale (2015)

3 – The Woods – Jesse Hears a Noise (1985)

4 – The House – First Entry in 30 Years (2015)

5 – The Woods – Return to the House (1985)

6 – The Woods – Inspecting The House (2015)

7 – The Woods – Return to the House (1985)

8 – The Woods – Inspecting the Bedrooms (2015)

 

 

1985

 

Kevin wriggles in the dirt and leaves, squirming and struggling to pull free of the fallen tree imprisoning him, feeling like it is trying to press down, to push him down and bury him in the dirt beneath it.

Sobbing openly despite the possible repercussions it would normally lead to, the incessant torment and teasing from his brother, Jesse keeps frantically pawing and scratching at the frozen soil.

It’s softer here because the rotting deadfall has been a successful catch for falling leaves, the loose detritus wasting in a soggy mush. The warming early spring days have softened up the melting ice, loosening the rotting leaves once he manages to break the thinning ice.

He stops and grabs Kevin, pulling on him. He repositions, bracing his feet against the tree to pull harder. His feet feel like they will sink in, the wood softened with rot and giving somewhat in to the pressure.

Kevin inches out, and again with Jesse’s next tug.

They look at each other. They have hope. They renew their efforts, Kevin squirming and wriggling and Jesse pulling with all his might, inch by inch until Kevin is finally free.

Exhausted, they both fall on each other, laughing out the fear and stress and relief.

They hug each other as brothers will after a moment of extreme stress.

“I thought I lost you there,” Jesse says.

“Never.”

Kevin struggles to get up and Jesse helps him. It feels strange to him, the younger brother helping his older brother up when not so many years ago it would be the other way around.

They fight a lot, as siblings will. But Kevin is generally there for him, looking after him.

Kevin looks at Jesse.

“Are you ready to try it again?”

Jesse pauses. Every time they try to leave the yard, they are back here in the woods.

He nods. Even as his head makes that bobbing movement he feels as if his body is swimming; swimming through mush, reeling, floating.  Rushing at breakneck speed through time and space, all at once.

“Okay, let’s do this.”

Kevin climbs over the tree, stepping high yet again over the snow and naked brambles and twigs of the woods, heading for their back yard. Jesse follows.

They reach the yard. The snow is littered with their broken footsteps from their earlier time spent playing in the yard. The half-buried bike poking up from the snow like a skeletal corpse. Conspicuously absent are their earlier footsteps from their previous trips back to the house or their attempts to leave the woods.

It is just as they expected it.

“This way.” Kevin leads the way, this time following the edge of the backyard to the neighbour’s yard.

They make it to the back edge of the house.

Kevin looks back, nodding. So far, so good.

Jesse speeds up to move closer to Kevin.

They pass the back corner of the house, heading up the side yard.

They pass the first bedroom window.

Kevin feels the urge to break into a run. He holds back.

Jesse reaches for his hand and Kevin takes it.

They keep going.

The second and last window on that side.

“Yeah! We’re doing it! We’re doing this!” Kevin cries out happily.

“Yeah!” Jessie copies.

They look at each other and laugh, full of relief, and start sprinting for their goal, the house next door and freedom.

 

 

 

Follow The Woods installments

 

L.V. Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are and The McAllister Farm
where the bodies are

 

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions? Find out in Where the Bodies Are.

 

The McAllister Farm-cover 1

Take a step back in time to learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are:  The McAllister Farm reveals the secrets behind the man who created the killer.

 

Link to purchase these books by L.V. Gaudet

 

 

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

Facebook author page

Google+

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

WordPress

LV Gaudet, author

2 Comments

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When Your World Falls Apart – Cause and Effect by LV Gaudet

What do you do when your world falls apart?

 

jordy-meow-4843

Photo by Jordy Meow on Unsplash

This is the sort of question that is so open ended that there is no right or wrong way to identify with it.

There is the major falling apart, dealing with loss and grief.  The kind that you cannot do anything but mourn for as long as it takes to learn to live with it.  Debilitating emotional turmoil.  Depression.  That is only to name a few.

A middling falling apart of your world might involve being fired from your job, that guy or girl you have dated for the past six months breaking up with you, or perhaps a car accident where the only casualty is that automobile you loved.  It hurts.  You want to wallow in your feelings of self-pity and loss, but even you know somewhere inside that it is not such a big loss as it feels like at that very moment.

And then there are those momentary mind-numbing mini tragedies.  Flash pan moments that bring on sudden extreme emotions that can die heartbeats later.  The kind that bring you into a heat-of-the-moment panic.  The flash of anger.  The moment where tears suddenly burn your eyes and you feel how foolish you must be because it’s not worth crying over and you must be tired.  You make more excuses for yourself.

Finally, there are the truly trivial. These are perhaps most often experienced by one in the midst of a severe emotional mood swing, including toddlers.  You dropped your ice cream.  Your mascara glopped on your eyelashes, sticking them together and it is truly the end of the world because that boy you like is going to think you look like some kind of moronic goon who doesn’t know how to use mascara (note the run on sentence thought of the teenager in the throws of a hot mood swing).  You truly are over-tired and you spilled your coffee.  These moments of your life falling apart are no less severe in your feelings at the moment they are happening.  Later, you might think, “Wow.  I really got upset about that?”

 

 

The question to dig deep and ask yourself is, “What would I do?”

 

Imagine a situation.  Imagine how you would feel.  What you would do.  What if you were in a different mood?  Experiencing something else, good or bad, at that moment.  How you imaging other people you know or observed would handle the situation.

 

 

Now place your character in that spot.

 

Ok, so your character is coming to a red light.  Just as they are approaching, the light turns green.  The cross traffic has the red.  With an internal sigh of relief, your character moves the foot hovering over the brake to the gas, accelerating through the now green light.

Just as they are beginning to sail through the intersection, a car cuts them off.  Your character is shocked.  Indignant.  Panicked.  They react too late.  Time has slowed to a crawl as they bear witness to the coming accident they feel powerless to avoid.  By an almost impossible chance, between lamely groping for the brake too late with that foot, fighting the urge to swerve onto the sidewalk where people wait to cross the street, and the offending driver gunning the gas, your character barely avoids the collision.

Weak with the after effects of the momentary surge of adrenaline, your character has a hot flash pan moment.  Anger.  Your character swears at the other driver.  Looks at the steering wheel and silently swears at themselves for not blaring the horn.  Your character drives home angrily, stomping into the house to be greeted by….

What?

A toddler?  Your character, still hot and angry, snaps at the toddler, regretting it even as the words are coming out of their mouth.

Hurt, the toddler wanders off, looks at that sparkling pretty round diamond ring, the one your character lost last month, and woefully decides you don’t want to see it.  Hurt, angry, the toddler wanders to the bathroom and flushes it down the toilet.  Cause and effect.

Maybe it is a teenager.  Hurt and angry and in the midst of her own flashpoint of emotions, the teenager stomps off to her room.  There, she grabs up her phone and texts her boyfriend.  Hurt and angry over some very minor thing he perhaps doesn’t even know he did wrong, she breaks up with him.  Breaks his heart.  Cruelly, lashing out with the hurt and anger she is feeling against your character.  What kind of person is her boyfriend?  Do they both wallow in self-pity and pain until they get over it?  Maybe he takes drastic action to vent his grief and anger.  Cause and effect.

Or, perhaps in that flash of hot anger, your character does something extreme they will regret.

 

Writing is constantly putting your characters into these positions.

You need drama.  You need adversity.  Your readers need to be pulled in, desperate to know what is going to happen, what is your character going to do.  Can they fix this?  Can they at least survive it?

Always think about how you or others might handle the situation you put your characters in.  How their actions affect the other characters, how the cause and effect might play out rippling through the story line and the other characters.

Think about how that very cause and effect ripple will come back to hit your character, because, let’s face it, in real life it does tend to.

 

When you are stuck on where to go next, follow the ripple of cause and effect.

You may end up with word clutter that you will cut from the book.  But it can help pull you along to find the key that will push the story’s momentum further.

 

Like real people, characters need depth.

Depth is making your characters feel real to the reader. By messing with them.  Give your character a reaction to some minor thing in a pivotal moment that leads them in a new direction that makes sense for the story.  It may not affect the story at that moment, but it can be a foreshadowing of something to come.  Cause and effect.

 

 

Follow me on my blog.

The Intangible World of the Literary Mind

This blog is about writing, being an author, and life.

 

LV Gaudet, author

This blog is for the fans of dark fiction, those stories that slither softly into your dreams in the night to turn them dark and foul.

 

 

Published with Indigo Sea Press:
where the bodies are

 

He can’t stop killing.

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

Learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are.

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The End of NaNo by LV Gaudet

Photo by Al x on Unsplash

Photo by Al x on Unsplash

National Novel Writing Month has come quivering to a close.  We lay down our exhausted pens, pencils, laptops, and other writing tools, take a long sigh, and rub our weary foreheads.

It is done.  As of midnight tonight, wherever you are, this chapter is closed.

We laughed, cried, and groaned at our writing ineptitude.  We spent hours feverishly pushing our writing abilities to the limit, staring in mute despair at the page before us with bleakly blank minds for even more hours.

Our stories soured and then soured.  Words turned cryptic and characters spouted overlong speeches, the words pouring from their mouths as if vomited in a panic to get words on the page.

We revelled in the thrilling flow of action pouring from us, uncertain where in our imagination it is coming from.  We bowed our heads in deference to the darkness oozing from our fingers onto the page, the love, the laughs, and the diabolical diatribes.

Now that it is done we move on.

Validated to confirm your wretched loss or your voracious victory, you pour yourself a stout glass of wine, brandy, vodka, hot cocoa, or whatever it is that soothes your now shredded soul.

Take a hot bath with soothing mineral oils, bubbles, a warmed brandy, chocolate, soothing music, and a good book.

Tomorrow you can resume the normality of daily life glowing in the aftermath that whether or not you reached that 50,000 word score, you did it.  You faced NaNoWriMo and stared it straight in its insidious eye.  You stared down the gullet of a veritably impenetrable goal.  You did what your friends, family, co-workers, and loved ones feel is incomprehensible, dedicating your soul for thirty days to something that will always  make you a little mysterious to them.  Something they likely will never truly understand.

What comes next?

Now that normality settles on your life and you perhaps feel a little empty for leaving that part of you behind, you ask yourself a simple question.

Now what?

Keep writing.  You don’t have to push. The drive of the impossible no longer hangs over you.  Take what you learned about yourself over the past thirty days, the newfound ability to find the writing spark on demand, or keep working to discover that ability if you are still struggling with it, and just enjoy the writing.  Let yourself gently guide your story to completion on your timetable.

Come January and February, the ‘Now What?’ months, it is time to follow the pledge you will now make to yourself and the NaNoNite community.  The pledge to not abandon what you just wrote with wanton abandon.  Come January and February embrace your work and dig in with both feet and your hands as you rip and shred it into a new masterpiece through editing both savage and refined.  It is revision time!

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Hello NaNonites by LV Gaudet

Hello NaNonites.

 

I met a few of you at the kick off.

I’m Lori.  I write dark fiction and Halloween is my favorite flavor of holiday decoration.  I don’t get online every day, busy life and all.

You can find me on NaNoWriMo under my published name: LV Gaudet

https://nanowrimo.org

 

Are you ready for thirty days of obsessive writing?  One of the tools I like to use is mocking up a book cover for inspiration.  A visual of the literary feel of the story.

 

For those who don’t know what it is, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  For the month of November you pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  Yeah, we’re nuts.  We are writers.  There is a wine that goes nicely with that.

 

I had to look back on my Nano books to figure out this is my 8th year.  Oops, I was a year off tonight.  I won three of those years.

Here are my NaNo creations in chronological order:

Garden Grove Cover - Amazon ebook - front cover

 

Garden Grove – Self published.

 

NaNoWriMo 2011 Cover

 

Untitled – I will come back to it.

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

 

The McAllister Farm (winner!) – Published by Indigo Sea Press, a small indie press in the US.

Blood cover

 

Blood (winner!) –  Based on the short story.  I will finish it, but it’s getting weird.

 

thumb

Butterflies in the Garden (winner!) – Needs a do over and I vote this worst ever mock cover.  This will eventually be published under my alter ego to frighten the middle years/teens.

 

Old Mill Road cover idea

 

Old Mill Road – Still a work in progress. On the back burner.  I’m still looking for the old Mill Road monster.

Nathan copy-NaNoNathan – Yeah, and then there is Nathan.  Nathan was born in Hunting Michael Underwood.  But, he wouldn’t stay there.  I only made 9000+ words and gave up.  But, the voices in Nathan’s head are still there.  They will get out.  Run.

Killing David McAllister

And this year’s Nano is Killing David McAllister.  Fourth book in the McAllister Series and it will be the final.  Hunting Michael Underwood was supposed to be the last, but the story was not done.  Well, except for the spin off.  White Van.  That was not a NaNo book.  I will get back to it.

 

If you find me on Twitter (@lvgaudet), you will probably see random posts about the #BigDumbBunny.  The name is self-explanatory.  She’s big.  She’s dumb.  And she looks like a big dumb bunny with those ears and the bunny hop.

 

Feel free to check out one of my blogs.

The Intangible World of the Literary Mind (lvgwriting.wordpress.com) is my first blog.  It’s a blog about writing and being a writer for writers.  I haven’t been as active as I would like to be.  Life and stuff.  Writing.  You get it.  I’ve posted stories, tips on writing, editing, creating platform, and promoting yourself and your writing.  I post my own tips as well as hitting the reblog button to share the advice of others.  I share (reblog) the odd book review and write my own book reviews when I have time to finish and review a book.  I have a lot of reviews I am behind on writing.  I post some random stuff too.

LV Gaudet, author (lvgaudet.wordpress.com) is a fan blog.  It’s all about the reader.  I share weird and creepy news stuff.  Sometimes podcasts by some other people who like dark stories.  And I post my own stories here.  I am working on being more sharing.

Vivian Munnoch, author (vivianmunnoch.wordpress.com) is a nom de plume.  An alias.  My sometimes alter ego.  I use this name for the child friendly stories.  This is where I would post anything to do with the younger realm of darkness.

 

 

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Editing Pitfall by LV Gaudet

The Gypsy QueenI would much rather be lost in the heat of the moment, my fingers flying over the keyboard in a desperate bid to keep up with the story flowing through my mind.

 

When I’m really into it, the story comes out so fast all I can do is skim through it, putting down the premise of what is happening.  All the rest is lost. The details, conversations, and descriptions.  It is the worst form a blatant tell don’t show, the opposite of what you want.  But, the root of the story is there.

 

Then, when it’s done, and probably after letting it age like a fine wine (or those Christmas goodies you forgot are in your freezer), I revisit it for the dreaded first round edit.

 

However, I have so many of those first drafts that my story aging folder has more stories than I can know what they are.  Everything from novels to flash fiction.

 

So, I have made a vow to those forgotten stories.  I will give you life.  At least some of them.  I will re-focus time to that dreaded task of editing, and make myself work through editing them into being publishable.

 

Except for one problem.  I’d rather be writing than editing.

 

I hate that first round edit.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not just the first round edit I would rather avoid.  But it has its own special place.  I despise it like I despise cleaning up fresh steaming hot dog vomit.  I loathe to touch it like I loathe to touch and clean up the slimy cold in your grossness of cold dog vomit that you found only after it cooled and likely set the stain in your carpet.

 

And yet I thrill in it once I have started.  It is a revisit to a once time friend.  The creation of a story, because that’s what I have to do if I only wrote the description of what is happening and not the real story.  I have to recreate that story from an idea.

 

As the story is recreated, scenes evolve into a real story, are moved, added, deleted… the story changes and becomes something new.  Sometimes it is simply more.  Sometimes the original story is lost.

 

And then there is that first round edit editing pitfall.

 

I edit myself into hating my own story.

 

I have revisited a story I wrote in 2012.  The Gypsy Queen.  The idea came to me while listening to a song of the same name.  The song has no relation to the subject of the story, but that’s just how inspiration sometimes works.

 

 

First, my first mistake.  I get only so far in that first edit, ideas are flowing, I am adding, moving, deleting, reworking scenes.  I get ideas of what needs to be earlier in the story and I go with it, jumping back and forth over the parts I have edited.  Then I feel I have to go back and re-edit what I did.

 

I do this again and again, and never make it past the halfway point of that first draft.

 

And then I do it.

 

 

My second mistake.  I edit myself into boredom.  I’m bored with the story.  This is only one of the reasons I generally do a big edit and let the story age some more while I work on another one.  Once you have read and re-read the same story too many times, it is all too easy to lose interest in it. Seriously, how many times can you re-read the same lines without them losing their luster?

 

I did this with the Gypsy Queen with re-editing that first half over and over and over.  Without even skimming the second half of that first draft.

 

I’m bored.  I don’t like the story now.  And I’m thinking, “Oh hell.  If I don’t like it.  If I can’t get into it.  There is no way any reader is going to want to read this crap.”

 

At this point I am thinking it’s crap.  It’s dull, uninspiring to read on.

 

I am ready to scrap the book and leave it to molder, wither, and die the slow death of the un-read in The Forgotten Folder of Stories Told.

 

 

It is time for resolve and doing something.  I decided to hell with it.  I haven’t even gone past that halfway point.  I am going to force myself to finished that damned first round edit on the rest of the story.

 

And so I push on.  I force myself to go beyond that point I kept stopping at.  And I hate it.  I hate the story.  I resent it.  It is cold slimy dog vomit on my carpet.

 

It is boring.  I don’t want to recreate the scenes.  Now that I made myself bored with it, I feel like it is a waste of my time.  Nobody is ever going to read this rubbish.

 

And still I force myself to go through that first round edit.  I admit, I cheated.  I skimmed scenes and left them as a description of what is happening instead of fleshing them out.  I did it telling myself it is okay because the book is going to be too long anyway, so I need to speed up and shorten the word count somewhere while still telling the story.

 

It is lazy writing and something I know I would fix later anyway on a later round of edits.  And if the scene never does flesh out, then it probably isn’t necessary to drive the story forward.

 

At this point I am pushing myself on with the promise that finishing that first round edit to the very end will let me figure out what is wrong with this story and how to fix it.

 

Still, I am bored with it.  It has no life.  No oomph.  No I want to read on.

 

 

And then I discovered something.  I reached a jewel.  That gem in a whitewash of blah.

 

Up until now, the story is pretty much what I remembered writing five years ago. But now.  Yeah.  Oh yeah.  I hit a scene I completely forgot writing.

 

It is like finding that treasure in the lower end thrift store, the kind that carries the stuff the better second hand stores would have tossed in the trash.  It is the filet mignon hiding under the label of the machine tenderized to make them edible tough “fast fry” steaks.

 

I devour the scene and suddenly the story comes to life.  Now I am, “Wow.  This story has promise.  This is going somewhere.  This can be good.  The possibilities just opened and they are endless.”

 

Now, as I push on to the end, I just need to figure out how I am going to completely re-organize the events and move this scene up.  Because, unfortunately, it happens much too close to the ending.

 

It would make a good mid-point scene.  It promises.  It also promises to breathe a new life into the whole book with new ideas for new scenes, new drama, new ways to torment the characters.

 

Like the untold story you sit down to write with no idea where it is going to take you, the possibilities are endless.

 

 

This, my friends, is only one of the reasons I tell my mentoree to never completely give up on a story idea.  (Yes, I am pretty sure I just made up that word.  Mentoree.  My dreaded evil-minded Word spell check agrees.)

 

Just because you don’t like the way it is going.  Just because you are not currently feeling the passion.  Just because you cannot see where it is going.  Whatever the reason you feel you should abandon it, no story is truly hopeless.  And, you might one day regret deleting that story file.

 

 

And now, just for you, I will give you a glimpse inside a work in progress.  There are still many edits yet to go before the Gypsy Queen can come to life, just as she does in the story.

 

Disclaimer:  You will note, and this is a big distraction from the story, that I have not yet even named the characters.  Meet “Man1” and “Man2” and others yet to be named.

 

 

 

The Gypsy Queen

 

1    All That Glitters

 

YEAR (TBD)

 

Two men hunch inside their coats as if to protect themselves from the cold.  They are huddled against the worn wooden wall of a building at the edge of the docks.  They are too wired with adrenaline to feel the chill in the air.

The shrill cries of the ever present seagulls add to the cacophony of noise as they hover above, gliding in the air with the occasional flap of their wings.

Man1 looks across the crowded docks, taking the sight in, his eyes eager even as he tries to keep the eagerness from showing in his expression.

“Are you ready?”  He turns to his partner, looking for a response.

Man2 shakes his head grimly.  His eyes are nervous, not sharing in Man1’s eager excitement.  “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”

“It will be a piece of cake,” Man1 grins.

“We won’t get past security.”  Man2 frowns doubtfully.

“She’s launching soon.  We have to make our move now,” Man1 says.

Man1 studies the dock once more, looking for some sign it is the right moment.  He gives his partner an encouraging nod and a “let’s go” signal, and bolts through a gap in the crowd as it opens.

With a resigned sigh, Man2 follows, the crowd closing again to swallow them both up.

The stink of the river hangs over the docks with a thick musty odor that clings heavily in the nostrils.  People bustle about the crowded dock like bees buzzing around each other in a hive, their movements bumbling against each other in a jumble of bodies moving past each other, each with their own purpose.

Large barges lay waiting to be loaded with goods and passengers for transportation.  Most of the boats that dock here now are large river barges transporting goods.

Heavily laden trucks trundle through the crowded docks to have their cargo transferred to the boat decks by looming cranes; their hooks dangling from above like giant fishermen’s rods waiting to hook one of the two-legged fish below.  Longshoremen reach for the hovering cargo containers dangling from the crane with their longshoreman’s hooks, swinging them into place before the crane settles the heavy load on the boat deck.

More longshoremen work together to roll heavy trolleys piled high with smaller containers up the gangplanks to fill the boats’ bellies.  Other workers are arriving and making their way to their respective boats.

Adding to the confusion crowding the docks are the hopefuls.  Men standing in groups in their work clothes, some holding their hats in their hands and wringing them anxiously, watching for anyone who might be in a position to offer them work. The depression has put a lot of men out of work.  Desperation has led them to be wiling to take any job, experienced or not, and to do anything to feed their families.

 

A man sits at a heavy mahogany desk inside a richly elegant over-decorated stateroom in the upper floor of a three story paddlewheel riverboat.  His chair is turned backwards to the desk as he sits looking out the window.  The view allows him to watch the river retreat behind the boat, churning beneath the blades of the paddle wheel.  Now, moored at the dock, the view is the hull of a massive river barge looming next to The Boat1, the metal sickening with rust and the growth of the river life that always clings to anything that spends too long soaking in its depths.

It is not a view he enjoys.  It makes him anxious to be moving and to return the splendor of the river to his view.

A knock at the door interrupts him.

“Enter.”

Man3 Man3lastname turns his chair around as the door opens silently to face the intruder of his thoughts.  Looking dapper in a well-tailored dress suit, his hair slicked back in the current in-style fashion hiding the salt and pepper of his hair,his expression is cold and calculating.  He is past his prime, now on the downward slope after reaching the mid-point of life.

Man3 smiles at his visitor. The smile does not reach his eyes.

The man who enters with a deferential bow is dressed in the formal uniform of a boat captain, his hat held respectably in his hands and the balding crown of his head laid respectfully bare.

“Sir, we are almost ready to cast off,” the captain of the boat says, unable to hide the inevitable nervousness he always feels in his boss’s presence.

“Right on time.”  Man3 glances at the ornate clock on the wall.  “I do like promptness.  Keep the ship shipshape and all that, right?”

He smiles at his own poorly quoted cliché.  The captain only nods agreement.

“All right then,” Man3 dismisses his own attempt at a joke, “let’s get started loading the money.”

The captain bows and backs out of the room.  He waits for his boss to lead the way to the wheel room.

Man3 gets up and leads the way.

 

Dodging through the crowd, Man1 leads the way towards the boat slips where the barges are being loaded.  Moving swiftly to avoid being run over by a large heavily loaded truck, he looks back for Man2 and pauses.

Stepping back a few steps quickly, he urges Man2 to hurry.

“You are a fool,” Man2 says when he catches up.

Man1 grins.  “But I’ll be a fool with money in a couple of hours.  Come on.”

He grabs Man2’s arm, dragging him along and trying to speed up their pace.

Man2 lets him drag him along, still regretting his choice to follow his friend.

Man1 ducks into the line of wealthy people, dragging Man2 with him and causing their neighbors to give them sour looks.

“There she is.”  He stares up at the boat with awe.  The Boat1.  She is larger than the average paddlewheel boat, and ugly in her richly ornate decorations.

Man2 shakes his head.

“You and your get rich quick schemes.  The only thing they ever get you is in trouble.  This won’t be any different.”

“Positive thoughts, my friend.  Positive thoughts.”  Man1 grins at him.

 

From his place of honour in the wheel room, Man3 looks down at the crowded dock, smiling.

“Look at all that money getting ready to board my boat.”

This particular pleasure boat has been converted into a floating casino and is owned by Man3 Man3lastname.

Man3 is a powerful man in more ways than his wealth alone could explain.  Man3 owns the waterways.  He owns the port officials, the Dock Workers Union officials, and the Dock Master.  He also owns all the gambling houses in the state and is confident in his ability to keep the gaming officials in his pockets.

The line of people waiting to board The Boat1 starts at the top of the gangplank, descends the length of the plank, and stretches in a snaky line through the endlessly moving crowds of workmenand trucks filling the docks.

A scrawny ill-kept young boy darts through the crowd below, looking for the chance to steal anything he might eat, his presence ignored by all.

Unlike the rough looking dock workers, thewealthy people lined up to board The Boat1 are conspicuously out of place on the docksin their fancy dress clothes, showing off their wealth with the men finely dressed in well-tailored suits and hats and silver-tipped custom carved walking canes.  The women are older women, since it is unseemly for a young woman to be seen at a place of gambling or any other less than respectable public place.  They wear fancy dresses and hats and glitter with gem-laden jewellery dripping from ears and draping from overstuffed necks.

Two young men waiting in the line are conspicuous both for their overly exuberant eagerness and their clothes.

While the rest of the passengers are dressed in their finest and standing there looking haughtily superior to the dockworkers surrounding them, these two men are more likely to be mistaken for dockworkers than passengers.  As if the poor quality of their clothes is not enough, their excitement is out of place in the crowd of bored wealthy gentry waiting in the queue to board.

Their eager antics, gesticulating, talking too loud, and even drumming on the railing make them all too noticeable, particularly to the security guards who are also watching the passengers from on deckon The Boat1.

People around them give the two young men annoyed glances, purposely not looking right at them, making it clear they do not belong among the upper class citizens.  The two men seem oblivious to being out of place.

Man3 frowns at the two unwelcomed guests attempting to board his boat.  He is not concerned.  His men will not let them board.

He turns his attention back to the string of wealthy people lining up to lose their money on his gaming tables.  They are not just the wealthy.  They are the moneyed influential people;corporate leaders, politicians, and those whose wealth is enough to be influential on its own.

 

Two beefy looking dark-suited men lean on the upper deck railing, looking out over the docks.  They study the guests waiting to board.  One of them has a stout straight cane with a heavy ornate carved ram’s head leaning against the rail next to him.  He does not look like he needs the support to walk.

On the main deck below them, two men in lesser suits resembling a ship-mate’s uniform stand next to the closed gate at the head of the gangplank.  They are watching the crowd snaking down the plank and through the crowdof dock workers while waiting for the signal to start letting the people lining the gangplank board.

Theyare not seamen.  They have one job and one job only, security.  The men aboveare the head of security for Man3 Man3lastname.   All of the security guards are dressed in business suits, except those few imitating the ship’s crew for the amusement of the guests.

One of thegate security men nudges the other, indicating the two overeageryoung men with a motion of his head and a smirk.  The other man shares his smirk.  It isnot unusual to have a couple of working classindividuals trying to board.

Part of their job is to keep them off the boat.

One of the gate security men turns to look up.  He can just make out the hands of the two men watching from the deck above, their arms resting on the railing and their hands protruding before them.  He has been glancing up every minute, watching for the signal to start the boarding.

One of the hands moves.  It waves.  That’s the signal.

He turns to his partner and nudges him, indicating the gate.  He moves to take his position on one side of the gate, while his partner takes the other side.  Placing his hand on the gate, he lifts the latch and swings the gate inward against the railing.

The first sign of eagerness stirs through the bored crowd as their murmuring voices move down the line, announcing the opening of the gate.

 

Man1 is staring up at The Boat1 wistfully.  Images play in his headof the anticipated grandeur of what he imagines the casino room on the boat will look like.  The dealers calling out for bets, bells ringing, and the dull bop bop of the roulette ball bouncing around the wheel to the silky ticking of the wheel spinning.  The soft sliding of cards being dealt and clink money changing hands.

“You can walk in with little and walk out rich,” he thinks hungrily.

The eagerness slithering down the line of the bored wealthy elite stirring them to life sends excitement washing through him when it reaches them.

“Here we go.”  Man1 looks eagerly at Man2.

“It’s not too late to turn back,” Man2 says.  “They aren’t going to let us on.  Look at us.”He looks Man1 and himself up and down for emphasis.

“Everyone knows they won’t let anyone without a large bankroll on The Boat1.”

“You only live once, my friend.  You only live once.”  Man1 nudges Man2 to move in anticipation of the slow forward motion of the line reaching them.

Gentlemen and ladies start the slow shuffle up the gangplank, boarding the boat with a regal air of entitlement.

The burly security guards stand to each side of the opened gate, silently watching the passengers board, nodding a greeting to the occasional guest.  They miss nothing, ready to give silent signals to others waiting discretely on deck in case a passenger is to be quietly removed after boarding or taken to see the boss in his private office onboard.

Man1 has eyes only for the goal ahead.

Man2 keeps looking back anxiously, keeping an eye on their path out of this.

When the line of boarders finally brings the two unlikely pair of young men almost to the front of the line, one of the security guards raises a bushy eyebrow at their less than proper clothing.

Seeing the reaction and knowing it is meant for them to see, the nervous young men try to stay calm, not looking at the security men but not looking away either, as if they too are just another pair of bored wealthy passengers.

They hope by ignoring the guard’s look the guards will decide to ignore them.

Just as the young men are about to move through the open gate, amazed that they are actually pulling it off, a heavy stick thumps down across the opening and blocks their path.

They look down at it. It is made of stout wood, rod straight from tip to tip, and crowned with a heavy deadly hook on one end.  The other is attached to the meaty hand gripping it.  The gaffer hook bears scars that they prefer not to find out how they got there.  They follow the arm attached to that meaty hand up to the stern face of the burly man dressed as a seaman.

Behind them, they can hear snickers at their expense from those waiting to board.

They glance at the other man dressed in an identical faux seaman suit, and back to the larger man.

Without a word, the security guard shakes his head ‘no’ and points back the way they came, down the gangplank.

Man1 opens his mouth to plead their case, but Man2 gives him a warning jab from behind.

With a regretful shrug,they sheepishly turn around and squeeze their way all the way down the long gangplank past the glares of annoyed passengers who have to wedge themselves against the railing to let them pass.  Looks of relieved disdain and a few nasty snickers follow them down.

When they finally reach the bottom and break free of the crowded gangplank the pair burst free of the confines of the crowded path, turning to look back with regret.  The crowded dock isn’t much better.

“Well, Man1, we tried,” Man2 says.

Man1 shakes his head.  “We will find another way.  Man2 Man2lastname, there is one thing you need to learn in life, and that is when there is a will, there will always be a way.”

“They will never let us on board,” Man2 says.  “The whole idea was crazy.”

“We just have to not get caught,” Man1 says with a grin.  “What are they going to do once they are under way?  Toss us over the side?”  He shakes his head.  “We sneak on board and hide until they are on the river, then they are stuck with us until they dock.”

“How do we get past the security?” Man2 asks.

“I haven’t figured that out yet,” Man1 admits.  “I will find another way onboard,” he vows, looking lustfully at the ornate paddlewheel boat.

They wander dejectedly around the dock, man1 unwilling to give up just yet on their hopelesscause.

Man1 spots another gang plank running across from the dock to the rear deck and an open doorway into the bowels of The Boat1 instead to the passenger deck.  This plank is much wider and longshoremen are struggling against gravity with the weight of heavy crates being carefully drawn across the plank into the boat, gravity trying to pull them down with dangerous speed even as the men fight to control the slow steady pace of the rolling cargo.

Man1 stops, the grin coming back to his face as his eyes twinkle with mischief.

“Oh no,” Man2 groans.  “I know that look.”  It is a familiar look that his friend always gets when hecomes up with some crazy idea.

“There, the cargo door.”  Man1 thrusts his chin towards the gangplank.

Man1 and Man2 exchange a look.

Before Man2 can try to talk him out of it, Man1 quickly lowershis head and pullshis hat down low to cover his face.  He rushes forward purposely, moving eagerly and having to force himself to slow down.

With an unhappy sigh, Man2 follows suit, following him into the crowd.  They lose themselves in the group of workers. Man2 following Man1’s lead, they each grab a corner of one of the heavy crates being rolled into the boat’s belly on wheeled trolleys and lean into pushing it, putting their backs into it.

“Won’t get far with hats like those,” one of the longshoremen struggling with the cargo mutters.  He assumes these two are trying to press their way into getting hired instead of waiting for the Dock Masterto pick them out of the group of hopefuls.

“They must be inexperienced if they ain’t even got no proper hats,” he thinks, “probably just laid off elsewhere and desperate for work.”  He shrugs.  It’s not his problem to chase them off.

Once inside the boat, Man1 and Man2 take advantage of the hectic activityin the rush to load quickly, breaking away from the workers and sneaking off down a narrow passage.  They cross to another, looking back with relief to find they are not being followed.

“Okay, now what?” Man2 asks.  He feels a little dizzy and out of breath with the rush of sneaking onboard.

Man1 looks up and down the passage. His heart is beating fast with excitement and his eyes are bright with his eagerness to make their way up to the deck.

“This way,” Man1 says.  “We’ll hide and wait until the boat is moving before sneaking up to the casino floor.”

They move down the passage checking doors.  Most are locked.

They come to one marked “Utility” that opens and slip inside the very tiny closet.  The two of them barely fit, Man1 standing with one foot inside a large bucket that luckily is empty at the moment as Man2 tries to squeeze in with him.

Man1 looks down at the awkward spot his foot is wedged in, thinking that lady luck is already shining on him.

The closet turns black as the door clicks shut.

“I hope this doesn’t take long,” Man2 says, trying to shift so that whatever is digging painfully into his back will stop.

They wait, holding their breath every time they hear someone approaching and exhaling in relief each time the person continues on past.

“How long is this going to take?” Man2 whispers after what feels like an hour wedged in there.  “I’m getting a cramp.”

“It shouldn’t be much longer,” Man1 whispers back.  He pushes down an urge to open the door and peek.

At last they realize that they feel a rolling pulling that might be the motion of the boat moving down the river.

The two men listen, feeling out the pulling sensation, and finally decide to risk it.

“I think the boat’s moving,” Man1 whispers.

“I’m not sure.  It might just be the waves against the dock,” Man2 whispers back.

“No, this feels different; I think it really is moving.”

After an uncertain pause the decision is made.

“We have to check it out,” Man1 says.

“Ok,” Man2 agrees reluctantly, but with anxious relief.  He doesn’t think he can spend much longer wedged into that cramped closet.

Man2 slowly opens the door a crack, peeking out and expecting to have the door yanked from his hand at any moment by one of the two burly security men up top.

Stepping out of the closet, they pause in the passageway and listen, feeling the motion of the floor.

“It is definitely moving,” Man1 nods.  “Let’s go.  They open the tables as soon as the boat leaves the dock.”

He leads the way up the passage and down another until they find a sign marked “Stairs”.  Looking cautiously around the open doorway, they see a narrow set of steep stairs leading up.

“This place is big,” Man2 whispers, amazed at how big the boat seems below deck.  And this doesn’t even include the cargo hold, the galley, or anything else that may be down there.

They duck through the doorway and up the stairs.

The top of the stairs opens to the deck level of the boat.

Hiding in the doorway, they look around.  Behind them is a walkway between the railing and the wall, behind which they are sure the casino tables are housed.  Ahead of them the open deck portion at the front of the boat sprawls. Lights that would be lit before dusk closes in are strung elegantly above the deck.  White clothed tables with elaborate settings are strategically scattered at one end near a closed door that has to be the galley.  Dinner will be served on this cruise.  An open space that appears to be a dance floor is bordered on one side by chairs, presumably for musicians.

Man1 nudges Man2, nodding towards the path between the railing and wall behind them.

They both look that way.

The ringing and clanging of machines, babble of bets being made, and calls of the card hustlers running the tables of the casino floor comes from doors left open to the railing and cooling river breeze.

The young men imagine they can feel the warmth of that room already embracing them with its warm lights and the heat of sweating bodies clamouring to win or lose their money.

With a grin at each other, they sidle up the passage and slip into the room, sticking close to the wall as if that might prevent them from being seen before they are ready to start trying to gamble.

They stare in slack-jawed awe around the casino room.

The walls are painted in off white with gaudy golden trimming everywhere.  The thick trimming seems to roll in every direction.  Carved trimming runs parallel to the floor around the entire room.  It runs up and down the walls every six feet, bordering every doorway and window, and matches the heavy painted carved bases of all the wall lamps and trim circling the ceiling lights.  Large elegant glass chandeliers drip from the ceiling.

In contrast, the carpet is a dark patterned red and black mosaic.  Richly red heavy curtains hang open and drawn back with golden tasselled tie backs at the sides of the windows and open doors that lead to the deck.  Staff doors are painted to blend in with the walls.

One-armed machines lined up against one wall glitter in the lights, their bright colors and rolling wheels of pictures of cherries, grapes, and coins promising happiness and fun.

Dark stained wood tables with rich red felt table tops suggest wealth and prestige with the fine dark leather stools sitting stoically before them.  Men in striped dress shirts and slacks call out the chances as men and women lay down their bets in the form of colored discs.

Like a carnival game, the roulette table wheel spins, clicking and clacking around and around like a spinning wheel that ran out of wool, its dark wood and elegant frame giving the impression of something meant only for the wealthy.

Statues and plants are placed strategically, adding regal elegance to the room.

Even more awe inspiring are the people themselves.  Wealthy men and women showing off their status with their rich clothing, gold watches, and gaudy jewelry dripping from the women, all flashing their money around.

The two security men dressed in business suits standing unobtrusively in a corner notice the two conspicuously under-dressed men the moment they slip into the room.  The guard with the stout ram’s-head topped cane nudges his partner, nodding towards the two intruders.  They move together, working their way discretely towards them.  They are already moving in on them while Man1 and man2 are still taking in the room’s ornate gaudiness.

Man1 and Man2 are drawn forward, nearly salivating in their eagerness.  They move away from the wall, moving through the crowded casino room, looking around like little farm boys who have never seen the wonders of a bustling city.

Their presence has not gone unnoticed and curious looks are already being passed their way.  It is not proper for deck hands to be seen on the casino floor and a few of the guests are even feeling a little alarmed that something might be wrong.

On the floor, they are even more awed by the flagrant wealth being tossed about and lost on the gaming tables.  Stacks of high value colored discs pass back and forth between dealers and players as bets are called and closed, cards are played with deft precision, and dice are tossed.

Their eyes sparkle and their minds reel with the imagined possibilities, Man1’s in particular.

Man1 is dazzled by the sheer sickness of wealth surrounding them.  Just making money betting on the tables is no longer enough.  He burns with a new desire.

“This could be us.  What if we could be running the show and raking in all this easy money?” he thinks, excitementcoursing through him as he absorbs the elaborate furnishings and money everywhere.

“Let’s try this table first,” Man1 nudges his partner.

Man2 looks doubtfully at the wealthy people playing at the table.

“Maybe we should try the machines first,” he suggests, nervous about going face to face with these people.

Grabbing his arm eagerly, Man1 pulls Man2 along to the blackjack table.  The people there shift over nervously, giving them space but unwilling to abandon their game, uncertain about their presence.

Man1 fishes some bills out of his pocket and plunks them down on the table.

The dealer looks at the crumpled handful of bills then up at Man1, his mouth creasing into a snide grin.  He makes no move to touch the offered money.

A heavy hand falls on Man1’s shoulder followed by another on Man2’s.  They both turn to look at the burly suited man standing between and just a little behind them.

Man2 gulps, his eyes immediately moving down, half expecting to see the man somehow holding some weapon in a third hand.

Man1 smiles sheepishly at the guard, although it is more like the sheep who just found itself surrounded by wolves.  He is trying to look casual, like he belongs, and is failing.

“Well now gentlemen,” Guard1 says with a smile more suiting a shark about to eat a baby seal, “how are we this evening?”

Man2 reflexively glances at the open doorway and the sky beyond.  The sky is still bright with the late afternoon sun, the deeper evening dusk still a couple of hours away.

The security man continues without pausing to let them answer.

“If you fine gentlemen wouldn’t mind coming with me for a moment, my boss would like to meet you.”  His hands resting heavily on their shoulders tighten into a vicelike grip as he directs them around and away from the game table, leaving the crumpled bills behind.

Man1 glances back at his money, wanting to reach out and snatch it off the table, but he is drawn away too quickly and isn’t given the chance.

“Damn,” he thinks, “that was all the money I had.”

As they turn and walk away, Guard1’s hand releases their shoulders and he casually grabs the heavy cane he left leaning against a table behind them on the way past.

The other guard waits behind them to follow them away from the table.  The moment the other three step away, he reaches out and casually pockets the crumpled bills.  He nods to the dealer to continue with the betting.

The dealer immediately goes back to business, calling out the bets.  The gamblers close their ranks on the hapless pair as if to prevent them from intruding on their table again.

“Mr. Man3lastname is waiting for you gentlemen in his office,” Guard1 says as he leads them casually out of the casino room.

Instead of taking them to the deck as the two men expect, he directs them to one of the staff doors blending in with the walls.  On the other side lies a narrow passageway with doors opening off it.  They pass those doors, not given the opportunity to pause and see what might be inside any of them, and round a corner that brings them to a set of stairs leading up.  At the top of the stairs is an elaborate smoking room for special guests, and Mr. Man3lastname’s office.

The dark wood lustre of the smoking room beckons to them as they pass through it, pausing at the closed door to the office.

The guard with the cane knocks on the door and a voice beckons them to enter.

Opening the door, he directs the two men to enter ahead of him.  The two security guards follow them in, closing the door behind them.

The office is as richly decorated as the rest of the boat with oiled wood panels and a large mahogany desk.  It is more richly decorated and substantially less gaudy than the casino floor, flaunting wealth, not flamboyance.

Elegant pieces of art are displayed safely behind shallow glass cabinets.

The man sitting behind the desk is wearing an expensive suit.  His carefully barbered hair has not a strand out of place and smile wrinkles crinkle at the corners of his eyes.

He isnot smiling now.

Man3 Man3lastname looks them up and down with a steady gaze, measuring them up.  His disdain for the pair of loafs sneaking onto his boat is clear.  His confident air also makes it clear he is not accustomed to not being obeyed.

“What makes you pair of nitwits think you can come on my boat?” he asks, his eyes deadly cold on them.

Man2 looks at his shoes, trying hard not to fidget awkwardly.

Man1 tries to meet his eyes, shifting nervously.

“Um, sir,” Man1 starts.

Man3 holds up a hand, stopping him.

“Did you have a good time down there?” he asks.

Man2 swallows the lump in his throat.

Man1 nods, stiff with fear.

“Now, how do you think it looks to my guests, people who can afford to be on my boat, when I let someone like you on board?  It’s not exactly good for my reputation, now is it?”

“Um, no sir,” Man1 mumbles.

“People like those pompous asses below don’t want to rub elbows with the likes of you and I, now do they?”

“N-no sir,” Man1 manages.  That the man they’d been brought before is putting himself on the same level as them with that last comment makes hope stir in his chest.

“Ok, maybe this won’t be so bad after all.  Maybe the guy is reasonable after all, a regular guy like us,” he thinks.

Man3 continues.

“The wealthy clientele who come to a boat like this,” he spreads his arms to indicate the luxuriousness of the vessel, “donot want to taint their reputation by being seen appearing to cavort in an establishment with penniless oafs who donot know their station.”

Man1’s heart sinks.

Man1 only hopes they will get out of this with only minor injuries.  He knows Man3 Man3lastname’s reputation. Unfortunately for Man2, he had kept that information to himself.

“I have to protect my reputation, and that of my establishment,” Man3 says.  “You understand, don’t you?”

He leans forward, raising an eyebrow in expectation of an answer.

Man2 nods, swallowing the bile threatening to come up his throat.

“Yes, sir,” Man1 stammers.“We are sorry sir.”

“You won’t try something like this again, will you?” Man3 says, more a statement than a question.

“No sir,” Man1 says.

Man3 looks to Man2, waiting for a response.

“No sir,” he mimics.

Man3 nods.

“See, we are all reasonable gentlemen here,” Man3 says, smiling.  He turns his smile on the two security guards, a signal he expects a response from them.

They both nod agreement, their expressions as bland as before.

“Yes, reasonable gentlemen,” they say in unison.

Hope stirs again in Man1.

Man2 feels it too, but pushes it down, afraid that any hope is futile.

“Now, please remove these gentlemen from my boat,” Man3 says, dismissing them.

“Thank you sir,” Man1 simpers nervously.

Man2 nods.  “Th-thank you,” he manages.

The two security men step forward, one opening the door, and they indicate the two young men should come with them.

Man1 and Man2 go submissively, following the two larger men’s leads, one security man ahead and one behind them.

After they turn down the second hallway and are still unharmed, Man1 daresto breathe an internal sigh of relief.

“So, how are you putting us ashore?  Are you docking?  A dingy?”

The security men remain silent as they lead the pair down a set of narrow stairs to the deck.  They exit to the deck towards the front of the boat.  A narrow passageway leads the way between the boathouse and the railing towards the front of the boat.

They are led along that narrow walk,the wind whipping at their clothes and rustling their hair.  Here, mooring lines are carefully coiled and lifeboats are hung.

“Ah, so on aboat then,” Man1 says, eying the boats doubtfully.  None of them have been prepared to be set in the water.

The security men stop next to the rail where there is a space between two boats, the two young men between them.

“It’s time for your departure, gentlemen,” Guard1 says.  The emphasis he puts on the word ‘departure’ makes both their stomachs turn sour.

Man2 leans over the rail, watching the fast moving current slipping by the boat.  He pulls back.  The current is strong and the waves seem higher than they should be.

“Is it from the wind whipping them up?” he wonders.  “I thought the wind I felt was only from the forward motion of the boat.” He cannot deny the stronger buffeting of a real wind thatis blowing.

Man2 starts turning towards the others.

Before either man can react, the two security men grab Man2. Using the railing as a focal point to spin him over the railing, they drop him over the side of the boat.

He vanishes with a shocked cry and a splash.

Man1 stares at them in surprise, flapping his mouth a few times before he manages to find the words to express his shock.

“But, the current-.”

The security men step forward.

“We will never be able to swim against it to shore!”

They grab him just as he moves to flee, each on one side.

He struggles.“We won’t make it, we’ll drown!”

Guard1 presses his face close.“You are not expected to,” he says wryly.

They fling him overboard using the same motion, flipping Man1’s weight over the railing like a teeter-totter someone forgot to fasten down.

His scream is swallowed by the splash below.

They turn away from the railing, satisfied with a job well done.

“How much did they have?” Guard1 asks.

The other man grins in amusement, jamming his hand in his pocket at the crinkled bills.

“Enough for a couple of drinks I think,” he jokes.

 


where the bodies areL.V.Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are and The McAllister Farm

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

 

Where the Bodies Are:  book 1 in the McAllister series.  What secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

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The McAllister Farm:  book 2 in the McAllister series.  The secret behind the bodies is revealed.

 

 

Links to purchase these L.V. Gaudet’s books

 

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

https://angiesdiary.com/bookoftheweek-web/081-botwoct262014.html

 

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

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Ghost Ship (The Illopogas) by LV Gaudet

 

A pall hung over the moon, misty clouds stringing across the sky like the tattered remnants of a ghostly sail.  The endless sound of the ocean forever in motion whispered ceaselessly like the incomprehensible roar of a far away stadium crowd.  Pale light from the moon reflected weakly off the constant gently rolling water, illuminating the upward motion while casting faint shadows on the downward movements of the water’s ceaselessly flowing surface.

A sound moaned softly somewhere in the darkness.  It was the creak and groan of ancient lumber flexing and bending with the pressure of the waves pressing upon it, trying to bend the wood to its will.  With it came the soft lapping of the waves licking against the slowly rotting timber, carrying it on an endless voyage across the sea.

Within the dark confines of the ancient ship’s hull, the air hung heavy and stale.  Dead.  Throughout the empty cargo hold was the rotten wood remnants of long ago stalls and pens for the transporting of livestock.  The spaces between these broken lumber remnants were filled to capacity with tightly packed rows and rows of shelves from ceiling to floor.  Littered among these shelves were shackles.  Some were red-brown with the rust of ages, some seemed black as a new cast iron pan and freshly oiled.  Many lay within the ranges in between.  There were shackles on the shelves and lying discarded on the floor like dead metal vipers.  Still more hung down from the low ceiling, swinging casually with the gentle rolling of the ship on the sea, swinging silently except for the occasional light ching when two touched briefly in their never-ending dance.  A thick gritty and greasy dust clung to everything.

“Is the cargo secured?” a voice called out.  The captain was feeling nervous about the dark clouds looming on the horizon.

“All secure,” called back the first mate.

“Secure the masts,” the captain called out, “bring in the sails.”

The sounds of men scurrying about the deck, voices indefinable and vague, echoed down to the hull below.

On the vacant deck above, the pale light of the moon caressed across the ship from bow to stern.  The sails hung limply, tattered and shredded, stained and rotting.  The planks of the deck lay clean and dry, repeatedly washed by the waves as though by invisible deck hands.  Endless days under the sun had left the timber bleached.

The moans and groans of ill and discontented souls oozed up from the bowels of the ship with the creaking and groaning of the timber, the only sound other than the waves and shifting of what remained of the rotting tack that touched the deserted deck.  Sometimes a terrible scream would be carried on the wind, fleeing the terrors locked within the weeping timber of the ship’s hull.

This is the Illopogas, a cargo ship that was once used for transporting many different types of cargos over the years, the last of which was livestock that was not of the four-legged variety.  Stories of the Illopogas migrate like some of the denizens of the waves, travelling from port to port, whispered in the darkened corners of inns and pubs by sailors who have drunk too much.  Even in the telling of these tales, these drunken louts eye the room suspiciously through narrow slitted eyes, making protective gestures behind their backs, wary of jinxing themselves and bringing the Illopogas across their path when next they sail.

Few sailors have crossed paths with the legendary ghost ship, The Illopogas, and lived to tell the tale.  None has been able to hold on to their shredded sanity.  Some say that the ship is haunted by vengeful ghosts, others that the ship itself seeks revenge.

There is something about ghost ships, forever sailing the seas manned by an invisible crew, which strikes fear into the hearts of men.  None as much as the Illopogas.

Beware the ghost ship.

Beware the Illopogas.

 

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The Woods – 7 Return to the House (1985) by LV Gaudet

1The Woods:

1 – The Woods – The Dare (1985)

2 – Thirty Years Later – The Old Bennet House is for Sale (2015)

3 – The Woods – Jesse Hears a Noise (1985)

4 – The House – First Entry in 30 Years (2015)

5 – The Woods – Return to the House (1985)

6 – The Woods – Inspecting The House (2015)

 

1985

The boys race back, crawling over the rotting downed tree, and through the woods.  They can see the house through the barren limbs of the trees, branches that stick out, their branching fingers trying to block their view of home.  They push through those branches, some twisted in odd directions, misshapen bony arms that were broken and healed to grow that way. They focus on the house through the trees.  Home.

They break free of the woods into the sudden freedom of their yard. Their boots slip on the snow, sloppy wet from the early spring melt.

A discarded bike lies on the ground, half buried, sticking out of the snow like the skeletal remains of a man fallen in an odd position.

“The grass,” Kevin calls breathlessly as they run for the house.

“We must have imagined it,” Jesse pants.

They charge into the house again, kicking off their boots, racing past the comic and discarded socks, to the kitchen again, calling.

“Mom!”

“Mom?”

“Mom!”

She isn’t there.  They search the house again.

“She’s not here.”

“Next door?”

Jesse frowns.

“Come on,” Kevin urges.

They head to the back door again, pulling their boots on, and going out.  They go around to the side, heading for the front.

“Kevin! Kevin!” Jesse cries.

Kevin blinks, disoriented. It’s hard to breathe, a crushing weight is pressing down on his chest. He tries to move and can’t. He’s pinned down.

Kevin is laying on his back in the snow. He stares at the bare branches of bushes pushing up through the snow around him and the bare branches of trees above.

“Jessie? What’s happening?” His voice is cracking with fear.

He is pinned beneath the rotting fallen tree they had climbed over earlier.

“How?” he croaks.

“Kevin?” Jesse’s voice is shaky.

Jesse takes a step back, staring fixatedly ahead, stopped by a tree behind him.

“Kevin, what’s happening?”

Before him is the rotting old stump, its sharp splinters and points of shattered wood sticking up, soft and crumbly with rot. He feels vertigo, the world seems tilted, and he feels the sickening sensation of falling.  Falling on the sharp jagged edges sticking up from the stump. He imagines himself impaled and his blood oozing out to drip down the stump, staining the snow and rotting leaves.

He turns and staggers away, looking for Kevin.

He takes four or five steps before he spots him.

“KEVIN!”

Jesse runs and falls on him, clawing at the snow and the downed tree, his fingers scratching at the rotting wood, trying to dig at the ground still hardened with the winter frost.

He’s sobbing as he frantically tries to dig his brother out.

 

* *   ***  **  ***  **  ***  **

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Author’s Note

Summer is here, and with it another year of every night busyness running around officially ends with the closing ring of the school bells.

This weekend we celebrate Canada Day here in the Northern part of North America and it is a big one inspiring a more intense round of both celebrations and protesting the act of celebrating the country.

This year Canada celebrate’s 150 years of Canada’s anniversary of confederation.  Whether that is good or bad depends on which side of that argument you are on.

Across Canada, people are asking, “What is Canada to you?” in an effort to determine that hard to pin down intangible thing, the Canadian identity.

In our new world, this 150 year benchmark celebration also brings the (no surprise) never ending threat which hangs a darker cloud over the world: ISIS’s war against the world and threats of attacks during the celebrations.

While our police and military will stand on guard for us against all threats, including terror, drunk drivers, and possibly the occasional summer spider; and scores will celebrate hugely this weekend; I will have a nice quiet summer weekend with friends, deep fry, wine, and a small local book signing.

Go Canada!  All of us who make Canada what it is: the indigenous celebrating more than 150 years of  making this country what it is today, the immigrants and refugees from around the world who add so much diversity, whether they are new first generation people welcomed to our country, or second or third or older generations,  and the generations born here whose ancestors colonized this great country.  For better or worse, we are all a village.  Together, we are Canada.

 

Follow The Woods installments

 

L.V. Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are and The McAllister Farm
where the bodies are

 

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions? Find out in Where the Bodies Are.

 

The McAllister Farm-cover 1

Take a step back in time to learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are:  The McAllister Farm reveals the secrets behind the man who created the killer.

 

Link to purchase these books by L.V. Gaudet

 

 

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

Facebook author page

Google+

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The Woods – 6 Inspecting The House (2015) by LV Gaudet

1The Woods:

1 – The Woods – The Dare (1985)

2 – Thirty Years Later – The Old Bennet House is for Sale (2015)

3 – The Woods – Jesse Hears a Noise (1985)

4 – The House – First Entry in 30 Years (2015)

5 – The Woods – Return to the House (1985)

2015

 

The realtor enters first, staring in fascination at the outdated furniture and décor.  The air feels heavy with dust and it tickles the back of his throat.

Awkwardly, he remembers and steps aside to let the other man in.

He steps inside after the realtor and, like him, stops to take it all in.  He scans the room, absorbing the old furniture, the layer of dust covering everything like a shroud. The dust in the air is heavy and gives his throat a dry tickle that makes him want to cough.

With a distracted nod to the realtor, he steps further into the house, feeling a momentary pang of regret for not taking his shoes off. “You are supposed to take your shoes off when you enter someone’s home,” he thinks.  He looks around taking it all in.

“It’s eerie how the house feels like the family just left it moments ago, like they are about to come back at any time.  The house looks lived in, except for the thirty years of dust coating everything and the vague feeling of abandonment.”

The mostly green cover of a comic book left laying open on the floor catches his eye.  He picks up the comic book and looks at it, trying not to disturb too much of the dust clinging to it.  It’s unavoidable, his fingers rub smudges in the dust coating the old comic book.  The Thing, an orange blocky comic book creation made of stone, part monster and all hero.  On the cover, The Thing appears to be battling a many-armed green wall, the green arms surrounding him in a barrage of punching fists.  Marvel Comics, The Thing issue #21 dated March 1985.  The price on it is sixty cents.

The top front corner is curled from a boy’s rough handling.

He puts it down with a frown, wondering if it’s worth anything on the collectors’ market.  He can’t take it, though.  It belongs to the municipality, along with the property and its contents.  At least until after the auction.  He hopes the realtor didn’t notice it.

“How often do realtors scoop up gems like this without anyone ever knowing?” he wonders.

Against the wall on a stand, a tube T.V. with its faux wood exterior box, two front dials, and bent rabbit ears poking up from the top at the back, sits darkly silent, a haze of dust coating every surface.

He walks through the house, past a pair of socks discarded on the floor, and into the kitchen.

“Did you say they still lived here after the boys vanished?” he called to the realtor in the other room.

The realtor is studying the spines of books in a bookcase on one wall.  It’s made of the old particleboard that expands and crumbles when it absorbs moisture, which it inevitably does over time.  The shelves have some warping and bubbling, crumbled on some edges.

“Yes, I don’t know how long.  They lived here while the search for the boys was going, and for some time after the search was given up.”

“And the husband moved out, leaving the mother alone?”

“Yeah.”

“How long?”

“I don’t know. Months? Years? They locked the place when they took her away. Like I said, we’re the first to set foot in the house since they institutionalized her.”

He leaves the bookshelf and starts for the kitchen.

In the kitchen, the buyer walks around, taking in the two tea towels carefully hung on the oven door handle, yellowed and rotting with age.  The teakettle on the stovetop. On the countertop, a measuring cup sits next to a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Two bags he guesses are flour and sugar bags sit next them. The bags are faded and stained with age, the paper brittle with age, and even the larger print words hard to read.

“Looks like someone was going to make a cake.”

He turns away, circling the table, studying the place settings set with care.

An old tan rotary dial phone hangs on the wall not far from the kitchen table, where the person on the phone can sit down at the table while they talk, the coiled cord stretched from them to the phone on the wall.

The realtor walks in and looks around, his footprints in the dust coating the kitchen floor joining those following the buyer’s trail across the room.  “Weird, the table is set for four.”

“For her family.” It is said with a dull gravity that makes the realtor turn and stare at him.

He breaks the awkward moment.

“I’ll show you the bedrooms.  There’s three bedrooms, I think.”

 

 

* *   ***  **  ***  **  ***  **

Author’s Note

While writing can be a panacea for stress, finding the time for it in a busy schedule can be a seemingly insurmountable challenge to circumvent.

Our backyard treesThings get hectic and perhaps you feel like you have lost control of even the little things (like your unread emails!).  It’s well worth finding that little niche of writing time.  Even writing these little bits, like the very short chapters of The Woods, can help keep that inspiration alive to feed the bigger stories brewing behind your hectic day of everyday life.

Some of my blogs are woefully neglected.  I try to find the little ways I can contribute and keep in touch with the world.

I am still plugging away when I can at those other writing projects.  Always in hopes of making significant progress.

Then again, the best progress could be sitting on the deck with a large glass of wine and looking out at those marvelously spooky trees.

Follow The Woods installments

 

 

 

L.V. Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are and The McAllister Farm
where the bodies are

 

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions? Find out in Where the Bodies Are.

 

The McAllister Farm-cover 1

Take a step back in time to learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are:  The McAllister Farm reveals the secrets behind the man who created the killer.

 

Link to purchase these books by L.V. Gaudet

 

 

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

Facebook author page

Google+

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

WordPress

LV Gaudet, author

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5 The Woods – Return to the House (1985) by LV Gaudet

 

 

The Woods:

1 – The Woods – The Dare (1985)

2 – Thirty Years Later – The Old Bennet House is for Sale (2015)

3 – The Woods – Jesse Hears a Noise (1985)

4 – The House – First Entry in 30 Years (2015)

 

 

1985

 

The boys burst into the house, hurriedly kicking off their boots at the back door before going any further.  Everything looks exactly like it did when they went out to play.

It’s 1985 and the furniture and décor are a clash of pieces mostly from the sixties and seventies, some bought new, some second hand, and some are hand-me-downs.  Nothing has been upgraded in the past ten years, a testament of thoughtful care and financial mediocrity.  The worn couch and dented coffee table, victims of having two rambunctious growing boys in the house, are overdue to be replaced.  A comic book lays discarded on the floor, open as if it is trying to fly away, The Thing is caught forever in an epic battle against a green monster that looks like a rough tree bark wall with many arms surrounding The Thing with flailing punching fists.  The television, an ancient tube set, sits dark and quiet on its stand.  A pair of discarded boy’s socks are tossed carelessly on the floor, and the latest edition of TV Guide sits on the coffee table.

“Mom!” Jesse looks around.

The house is dead silent except for their own breathing.

“Mom?”

Kevin stands there, looking around.

The house is exactly as they left it before they went outside to play.  How long has that been?  An hour?

But not quite.

Everything seems a little muted.  Off.

And more dusty than he remembers.

Jesse runs into the kitchen.  After a pause of a few heartbeats, Kevin follows.

“Mom?” Jesse pauses just inside the doorway, looking expectantly for their mother.

The teakettle still sits on the stovetop, two tea towels hang from the oven door handle where they were hung to dry after washing dishes in the sink, and the table is set for dinner with places for four.

Flour and sugar bags sit on the countertop next to a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon and measuring cup, pulled out in preparation of baking a cake.

Their mother is not there.

They run through the house calling, “Mom! Mom! Mom!”  They end their search back in the living room, out of breath.

“She’s not here.”

“Where could she be?”

“Next door, maybe?”

“Let’s go see.”

They pull their boots back on and rush out the door into the backyard, trained not to use the front door because that would somehow make more cleaning work for their mother, and around the side of the house to the front.

They stop, staring around wide-eyed, and turn to stare at each other, their faces full of fear and confusion.

They are standing in the woods next to that old stump.

“What the hell?”

“Don’t cuss,” Jesse says automatically.  There is hell to pay if their mom ever hears them use bad language.  Hell is one of many forbidden words.

Kevin turns to him, appalled.

“Seriously?  You’re worried about me cussing? We are back in the woods! How?  This is impossible!”

He stops.

“Jesse.”

“What?” Jesse is sulking now.

“The grass.”

“What about it?”

“Wasn’t there grass in the yard?”

“Yeah, so?  There’s always been grass in the yard.”

Kevin narrows his eyes, wondering if Jesse is just being dumb or is messing with him.

“It’s early spring.  Look around.  There’s still snow everywhere.”

“Yeah, so?” Jesse isn’t getting it.

Kevin’s shoulders sag with the futility of it.  Do I even bother? He sighs.

“Jesse, do you remember what the yard looked like? Just now, when we went back to the house.”

“Yeah, your bike was laying on the grass. I almost tripped on it.”

“Where was the snow?”

They both just stare at each other.

 

 

Follow The Woods installments

L.V. Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are and The McAllister Farm
where the bodies are

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions? Find out in Where the Bodies Are.

The McAllister Farm-cover 1

Take a step back in time to learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are:  The McAllister Farm reveals the secrets behind the man who created the killer.

Link to purchase these books by L.V. Gaudet

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

Facebook author page

Google+

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

WordPress

LV Gaudet, author

2 Comments

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