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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Help Finish This Story!


I haven't posted  lately. I've been suffering a bout of writer's block the last couple of months. I have four short stories that I have started, but I've been unable to finish them. I even know how each should progress, but for some reason I'm having a hard time pushing forward.

So, I had an idea. Probably not the best idea. If nothing else, it may contain a little entertainment value for you, the reader.

Below I've posted one of the four incomplete stories. It is up to you, dear reader, to give me your take on how the story should progress. Take this seriously. Or not. A snarky comment may be as valuable to dispelling my writer's block as a sincere, thought out reply. Who knows.

Here goes:


Not many people really believe in the paranormal, right? I never really believed or disbelieved. I just pretty much ignored the concept altogether. I was raised to be pragmatic. I’ve never strayed from what my mind accepted as purely logical. I see now that that has been to my detriment.

I’m not going to try and convert anyone here, but merely attempt, as best I can, to explain my feelings on the matter. I no longer ignore the possibility of things paranormal. Or should I say, the fact of the paranormal. I think most of us go through life in ignorant bliss of our true surroundings; of our natural, or as some may say, supernatural environment. But what is supernatural? If it exists, it’s a natural phenomenon, as far as I’m concerned. Even the purest of evil.

Look around. Truly look. Step outside of yourself. Open your mind. Become the animal you truly are; the animal you were at birth, or even before birth. You may see, might comprehend, that there is darkness where you have never noticed it before. Anomalies where light and shadow cross. In the shade of oaks. In deep waters. In your child’s thick head of hair. Believe me, it’s there. The thing that eats at us. Terrifies us. That itch, an itch that has tormented mankind from creation.


My son was pretty much like any other thirteen year old boy. Loved his Mother more than me (something that I knew from day one, and was fine with), had a best bud in Jerry Orwell, played Little League ball, hated math and loved video games. Brady, my boy, was a good kid. It was the day he came home and announced that he was joining the Boy Scouts that everything changed. Forever. God help me.

His buddy Jerry had convinced Brady that being a Boy Scout was “rad,” and that Jerry had even been allowed by his Scout Master to build and light the campfire as well as lead the hike on their last camping trip. Brady told his Mother and me about all the cool things Jerry and his troop did, from swimming in the ice cold waters of Devils Lake to baking a cake in a Dutch oven over hot coals.

Tabitha was a little underwhelmed by it all. Although she listened politely to her Brady’s pleas, she had fallen back on the old stand-by, “We’ll see.” The two of us later discussed it in bed, the room illuminated by one weak lamp on my night stand.

The anemic light cast shadows that revealed more than I could ever have imagined.

I gave my argument in that sanguine light. I’d thought hard on the subject. Even though I’d never been a Scout, my Grandfather had been and even became a Scout Master. I’d attended some events. I had friends that were Scouts. It all seemed pretty innocuous to me. Even though we weren’t church goers, it gave me some comfort that the Troop was sponsored by the nearby Methodist Church, where most of the activities were held. They even had a private Scout Camp on the lake. She voiced her fears of poor supervision; exposing our son for extended periods of time to children we didn’t know, even about being injured. It was at that point that Tabitha realized she was being over protective, and she relented. Had she somehow seen the darkness, the blotch that lay just beneath our reality? Then possibly shrugged it off, like shrugging off the winter chill without a second thought while stepping into the fire light? That’s what I think. No. That’s what I know. Now.

And so it was done. Every Thursday evening, Brady, dressed in khaki shirt and neckerchief, would meet with Troop 649 in the Fellowship Hall of the First United Methodist Church. I would drop him off, watching from the warmth of our minivan until he made it inside, a quick wave back, passing from the cold, dark November night into the bright, warm light of the church.

We were glad that we’d let Brady join. It would be good for him. You see, although his Mother and I thought of him as normal in every way, he did have a dark side; something… compartmentalized, hidden in his psyche. I’m not sure that’s the right thing to call it, ‘a dark side,’ but I can’t think of any other way to say it. He drew dark things; ever since he could hold a pencil. They weren’t monsters, per say. Otherwise, I could’ve gotten a handle on it, realized his motivation. I could’ve rationalized that the images were of childhood fears; bogey men, vampires, witches; fascinated by creatures derivative of fairy tales or television programs. But the images were not really recognizable as such. No fangs, claws or clichĂ©d bug-eyed monsters. No knives, blood or viscera. But dark, none the less.

At the age of two, black Crayon was scribbled in concentration. It was as if Brady was trying to obliterate all light from a certain area of the page. As he grew, his drawings became more defined. Head, arms and legs appeared. The head, always large and white with a lantern jaw; the body, tall, broad shouldered yet gaunt, legs and arms long and thin, filled in, in black, as black as Brady could make it. He’d be in a near trance when he drew these images. Once completed, he’d destroy them. Then it was over. Brady would start another drawing, the typical child’s rendering; yellow sun, brown tree with a green mop top of leaves, v-shaped black birds darting in a blue flurry of sky. A dog. A friend. His Mom and Dad.

We didn’t always see him create these images, otherwise I think we’d have been more concerned. In hindsight, I realize he must have been obsessed with making and destroying these drawings. I do remember asking him at the age of five who he was drawing. Brady whispered, “Clenchjaw.” Clenchjaw. Such an odd name. It meant nothing to me.


As hard as I tried, it wasn’t long before I was drawn into Scouting. I’m not what you’d call the outdoors type. My idea of roughing it is the Holiday Inn. But Brady was a priority. Maybe it was guilt. Had he been a priority up to this point? I’d given him a good home, but then I worked sixty hours, sometimes more, a week. I worked nearly every weekend. At two he cried when I left. At eight, he looked forlorn as I playfully messed his hair and told him to be “good for Mommy.” At eleven, he was nowhere in sight when I headed out to work. Neither was Tabitha. It all happened so gradually; so yes, guilt. Regret brought me to the Fellowship Hall on July 17th. How little I knew then about regret.

I pulled into the church parking lot, parking alongside Ted Sanders’ big Ford pick up. Ted Sanders was the Scout Master. Small and thin, nearly the size of the boys he supervised, Ted seemed to keep them in line with his authoritatively stern baritone voice. A Chevy Suburban was being loaded with camping gear by two Scouts, the oldest with rust red hair looking to be no more than fifteen. Brady looked to me, then without a word, bolted over to the boys, eager to help. I hesitantly walked over to Scout Master Sanders. I stood mute, like a shy thirteen year-old boy, waiting for Sanders to acknowledge my presence. He seemed not to realize I was standing there as he directed the boys on loading the gear into the back of the SUV.

“Gentlemen, this is serious business. If a bedroll is unaccounted for, there’ll be a cold, uncomfortable weekend for one of you. If you miss a box of provisions, we’re all going to go hungry. Let’s step it up. We’ve got a four drive ahead of us.” Sanders sounded overly brusk to me, but the boys settled down and took to the task without question.

Sanders folded his arms across his thin chest and stepped back, feet apart, concentrating on the boys. Now standing next to me, he spoke without looking at me.

“Your Brady’s Dad. Glad you’re here. Don’t get too many fathers willing to volunteer.”

“Well, I’m happy to do it. Brady…”

He cut me off.

“You’ll be driving the church club van. Just follow me, in the Suburban. Tom, our Assistant Scout Master, will ride with me. You’ll have the rest.”

Within the hour the remaining four Scouts arrived in various modes of transportation.
That's it. That's as far as I've gotten. Bring it on! Bring it on like the plague!

Check out my two short stories, now published on Amazon Kindle:









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