Final Project Part 2 – Inner Demons

So, here is the second thing I am going to share. During week 2 of this class we had to outline and describe our “bucket list” book. The book we have always wanted to write. I knew immediately what I wanted to use for this, but… it is such an undertaking and will require a decent amount of research asI want to do it right. I want to do it justice because it is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. It is a story largely about rape. No, it doesn’t go on and on providing the details of women being raped, but rather, the damage that is caused by a single incident and how that lives with the victim long after the event. When I started writing the paper outlining this “bucket list” book, I didn’t know I would be starting the book with my final paper. My idea is actually a Sixth Sense type of story where the reader is dumbfounded at the end. I don’t know if I can accomplish that, but this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Too many women in my life have been sexual assaulted/abused/raped. Not enough attention is paid to it (#metoo wasn’t enough) and I wanted to write a story with that as a focus. I want the reader to feel what the protagonist is going through and why she is doing what she is doing. It IS justified and should be recognized. I feel like I am ruining the story that I will eventually put out so I am going to stop there. I know I am a man who could never understand the depth and reality of this topic. Believe me. I get it and I don’t. But that is why it is my “bucket list” book. I already have several volunteers who are willing to tell me their stories. This takes courage and I respect the hell out of them for a) stepping forward and for b) helping me tell their story through a little bit of fiction. I will do the research and I only hope I can do their stories justice.

Also, I should add, the start of our story had to have an emphasis on nature for the project. This will not be the start of the story as I already have a different idea in mind (and did before I wrote this) but given the parameters, my original beginning wouldn’t work within the realm of the assignment. So I improvised. This will probably be the start of Chapter 3 or so (and will be heavily revised). Also, don’t read into the names. These are not final (and are nowhere near the final). I pick a name when I start writing. That is all it is, a name. Usually, somewhere between 40-80% I end up having a conversation with the characters and they tell me their name. That is the way I work. I don’t outline. I get an idea, highlight a few points and fill in the rest as I write. I hope you don’t judge me for that. My placeholder names are usually generic and usually a little bit out there, just so it is easy to find (and also it forces me to find their true character).

Also… not professionally edited. Just a minor Grammarly edit. Don’t judge me on tense/grammar, etc. I did a couple passes, but in reality, I suck at all that :). Please let me know your thoughts.

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Raindrops pelted Maryanne’s face, driven by the fierce blowing wind as she looked into the deep ravine in search of her fugitive. Why do they always have to run? she wondered. It’s because he’s a rapist scumbag, that’s why. They always run. The rain made looking for the perp almost impossible. The slick, muddy ground didn’t help matters either. Movement caught her eye to the south, and she saw him following the path of a small creek nestled between the thick cover of aspen and pine trees.

“I’ve  got eyes on him. Heading south through the ravine,” she said into her walkie talkie.

“Roger. Patrol units are en-route.”

“And air support?”

“A bird is also en-route. We should have eyes on him in two minutes.”

Maryanne kept her visual on him from her higher vantage point under cover from the thick bows of an old cedar tree. Normally, she’d already be down in the bottom of the ravine hot on his tail. The mud made such an endeavor nearly impossible, and as such, she remained at the top of the hill, shielding her eyes with her hands so she wouldn’t have to squint and possibly lose him.

The whir of helicopter rotors entered her peripheral hearing, and she urged them to hurry before he disappeared in the forest, or down a culvert. She didn’t want this guy back on the street. A serial rapist of many women (of all ages and ethnicities), he’d been in and out of the system since he was fourteen. It seemed there was no woman (or girl) who was off-limits. He was probably abused himself at a young age, which is why he fell into this life. But that was no excuse.

He neared the edge of the ravine, and soon she was going to lose sight of him. “Where is that damn helicopter?” He slowed his progress to traverse a number of large boulders that blocked his path. From this distance, they looked like limestone.

Flashing red and blue lights lit up the base of the ravine and bounced off the walls of the cliffs, as well as the wet street below. Seven squad cars squealed their tires as they came to a screeching halt. The officers jumped out of their cars and drew their guns. They used their vehicles as a shield. She heard the deep mumbling voice of one of the officers who was issuing orders over his megaphone. Ricky stopped, and his head darted back and forth.

“No, you don’t, you son of a bitch. You’re not getting away from us today.” She grabbed her walkie. “Where is the helicopter? The suspect’s escape route has been sealed, but he’s looking for another way out. I need eyes in the sky.”

“Roger that,” came the response. “Bird should be there in fifteen seconds.”

An answer to her prayers, the helicopter flew over her head. It wasn’t dark yet, but given the weather conditions, there were so many shadows and it made finding Ricky next to impossible. The helicopter switched on its spotlight and bathed the damp ravine in bright light. They could see his every movement.

More orders were issued over the megaphone, and it looked like Ricky was out of options. But Ricky didn’t think so. Even from her distance, Maryanne could tell he was panicking and wasn’t about to give up. He had that trapped rat in a cage look about him. His head darted in all different directions while he looked for an escape. Maryanne knew he had very few options. She could see quite well from her little perch, even in the rain, and he literally was surrounded. If he turned around, she’d be on him in a second. He could hide in the trees, but there was no getting out of them. Cliffs bordered both sides of the ravine. The best he could hope for was to hide in the trees. But the helicopter had infrared and would be able to keep tabs on him until the officers moved in.

Speaking of which, several of the officers slowly closed on his position while the officer with the megaphone continued barking instructions. Ricky turned around for a second. She knew he realized he was trapped. While the officers moved closer, he reached behind his back with his right hand.

“No, no, no. Not like this. Please, God,” she said. She grabbed her walkie. “Do not shoot. He doesn’t have a weapon.”

More gruff orders and Ricky continued to reach for his back pocket.

Three bullets cracked through the air, and Ricky fell to the ground. Maryanne collapsed to her knees. This wasn’t the fitting end she had in store for Ricky. He needed to be punished, not killed.

[JH1]Blue highlights errors related to UCOL Guidelines, Turabian citation and reference list formatting, and/or professional standards expected by editors and agents.

 

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Poem: The Sound of Death

This week in school we had to write poetry. I’ve never been a big poet. It feels too short and I’m long-winded (haha, at least I own it). This week was tough. Not only because I was in the hospital, but also because there was a school shooting right down the street. I moved to Highlands Ranch with my family in 1991. I met my wife at Highlands Ranch High School. I graduated from Highlands Ranch High School. And while the shooting wasn’t at my High School, it was right down the street. My wife and I moved to Parker in 2004, but it’s still in the same county (Douglas County). My kids go to school in this county. My wife is a teacher in this county. It all hit too close to home and I’m not happy about it. I had to write three poems this week. Given my ER trip and the school shooting, they all were in the theme of death. I had an idea for my third poem and approached my son. I asked him what he was feeling about the shooting and we chatted for a few minutes. He is very lyrical (creates his own rap music) and I asked him if he’d collaborate with me. We sat down for a couple hours and created the below poem. I haven’t really edited it, but I wanted to share it. Please feel free to give us feedback.

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The Sound of Death

We all don’t want to cry for help,

But sometimes we fear for our health,

Try to run and protect ourselves,

Try to avoid the pain we felt.

 

It used to be we went to school

We learned, we had fun, we lived life,

Empty minds, we followed the rules,

Not knowing the impending strife,

The thought had never crossed our minds,

This moment, a cut in our time,

It has to change, now is the time,

What will you do, government minds?

 

We all don’t want to cry for help,

But sometimes we fear for our health,

Try to run and protect ourselves,

Try to avoid the pain we felt.

 

A normal day, sitting in class,

Listen to our teacher ramble,

Biggest thought was letting time pass,

Alarm sounds, nothing flammable,

So many sounds, screaming abound,

Bullets whiz by, fear for my life,

Loud crashes, bodies hit the ground,

Now I won’t live to ninety-five.

 

We all don’t want to cry for help,

But sometimes we fear for our health,

Try to run and protect ourselves,

Try to avoid the pain we felt.

 

I feared for myself, my friends gone,

A battle ensued, yet I stand,

I’m still stuck here, but they moved on,

Too many fell due to one man,

As I remain, I recollect,

They’re on the ground, their souls have left,

Another mind that’s left unchecked,

So many lives we all bereft.

 

We missed our chance to cry for help,

Without a thought for our own health,

We didn’t run, thought we had stealth,

As bullets fly, their sound is death.

Short Story

Writing a Short Story for my Fiction Writing Class. Here is the first part.

Sitting on the couch, Tom’s fingers were laced through his hair. His limbs shook and he couldn’t find any control. He leaned forward, putting his head between his legs, drawing deep breaths between sobs. On the coffee table before him was a bottle of whiskey, a tumbler filled with much more than two fingers, several empty cans of Skoal, a crumpled paper, and the gun. Oh yes, the gun, staring at him as if mocking, calling out to him to use it. He’d bought it a year earlier and only used it once at a range. He lifted his head and stared at the Heckler and Koch VP9. He wanted to cast it aside, maybe even toss it out a window or something, but then what purpose would it serve?

Sweat and tears dripped down his face, over his red and puffy eyes. How could she do this to me? He picked up the paper and read through the note, scrawled with the angry words of a scorned wife. This was the tenth time he’d read the letter, hoping each time, somehow the message had changed. But it wasn’t to be.

He took the glass, tilted back his head, and drained it in a quick gulp. The whiskey burned all the way down his throat, but he didn’t care. The pain was punishment for his actions and he deserved it. Maybe it’d burn a hole in his stomach. At least he wouldn’t use the gun. Who am I kidding? I’m a coward. His wife had given him every opportunity to be brave; far more than he deserved, but he couldn’t ever do it.

At least the whiskey allowed him to forget, if only for a few moments, maybe even an evening. Then he could deal with all of this tomorrow. He grabbed the bottle in his trembling hand and started filling the glass. Why bother? He brought the bottle to his lips. The burning dissipated in an instant—more than likely it was numb—allowing him to drink a good fifth of the handle.

His hand still shaking, he jumped to his feet and paced the family room. This was the home he shared with his wife and two kids for the past nine years. Their images flashed in his mind. Beautiful Brenda, the woman he’d loved for well over sixteen years. Their two kids, Jordan and Becky. They were too young, too innocent, and wouldn’t understand what was happening. His heart cried out to Brenda, but of course, she wouldn’t answer. It didn’t matter. This was all his fault. He had to fix it. That’s what he did best, wasn’t it? He fixed bad situations. Could he do it again?

The room wasn’t large, so after a few steps, he turned and headed back in the other direction. With each pass of the coffee table, the gun cried out to him like a baby crying for its mother. He ignored it; looked away, tried his best to distance himself from the table. Maybe if I don’t see it, don’t make eye contact, it’ll leave me alone. But it didn’t. Like a lighthouse guiding a ship, it was a beacon calling to him, clawing at his mind to let it in.

My Ideas

I know I don’t have much of a following, yet, but I still get asked where I get the ideas for my stories.

I’ll start with my current side project. My wife has been asking me for a couple of years to write a story about a Silver Maple tree we have in our backyard. I know that is vague, but that is how it all started. I kept telling her I would start on something when I had the time. I finally started making time for it, and I squeeze it in when I am bored or stuck on book 3 in the Keepers of the Orbs Series.

While she gave me a topic, the actual story came to me the same way the Keepers series and my short story Redemption (as well as several others that I have yet to create) came to me. You see, when I was younger (8 or 9 years old) I can remember several instances where I couldn’t sleep. My big problem was that my mind would be stuck on another topic and I couldn’t shut it off. I taught myself to tell stories in my head; something to distract me and shift my brain to another topic. I noticed I easily drifted off to sleep. One such time I can recall, I threw all of my blankets and pillows on top of myself, and pretended I was in a cave that collapsed. I had to try and survive, as well as find my way out. I know it sounds silly, but this trained me and any time I had an issue, I used this tactic to easily fall asleep.

I know most people can relate in that as we grow older, trouble finding sleep only grows, especially when you are faced with extra stress or worries. On many sleepless nights over the past ten years, I found a particular story kept coming to me. When I was laid off and finally got up the courage to do something, this one became the basis for The Unknown Man, which quickly grew into a series.

Since I have been writing for the past 4 years, I have adopted a new routine. I write until about 11:30 at night, get into bed and read until midnight (or later depending on how drawn in I am to the book) and then I start telling myself stories regardless of whether or not I can sleep. If I am working on the series, my mind is focused on that and I continue writing it in my head (usually only for about 3 or 4 minutes) until I fall asleep. It isn’t a lot, but it gives me a good point to work with the following night when I actually sit down to write. If I am taking a break from the series, I let my mind wander, and I just create whatever I am feeling on that particular night. Maybe something happened during the day, who knows, but it comes pretty easily. The ideas I like, I write down so I can revisit at another time (when I have nothing else going on).

So there it is. My ideas come to me as a tool I created long ago to fight insomnia.