Monday, June 24, 2013

Down To The Horse (Excerpt)

This is an excerpt of a novel I have been working on tentatively titled, “Down To The Horse.” These are the very first paragraphs of a story that follows the descent of a young man named Dustin who winds up losing everything and in the process realizes the one thing he really needs to survive. Here is a brief look into his doomed first day on the job at the “Blues House,” a world famous music venue on the Sunset Strip. (And yeah… I’m going to change the name… at the time when I wrote this I didn’t think it was that obvious but yeah… SUPER  obvious…)


ERNESTO FELL OFF THE ROOF. Rogue female screams could be heard at the sight of his pudgy, middle-aged body sliding down the slanted, corrugated roof of the Blues House. He tripped, fell, slid then plummeted like a rock on top of the dilapidated vegetation trying in vain to grow about two stories below his drop off point. The Blues House lied on a prevalent part of the Sunset Strip and while its location was prime for high traffic flow, few noticed (or in the very least remotely cared about) the Mexican maintenance man plummeting from atop the roof of the famous live music venue. The few kind-hearted shoppers who did notice, stopped in their tracks. The front yard of The Blues House was exactly one story below street level and surrounded by a sturdy steel gate painted to look like an old wooden fence. No one on Sunset Boulevard could see if Ernesto had fallen into something remotely soft or into a death so sudden that many had their cell phones prepped to either make an urgent phone call to their friends about the remarkable occurrence or to snap deliciously morose pictures of the maintenance man’s crumpled body below to show to family, friends and news casts alike.  But the tragedy of it all soon gave way as several Blues House bartenders, who were coincidentally smoking on the front porch and witnessed Ernesto’s descension unflinchingly, began to laugh hysterically as the head of the dirty and slightly bruised Mexican popped up from behind the gate with a smile that would make any Cheshire cat envious.

“Jesus, Ernesto, you’re gonna get yourself killed one day dude!” a tall, blonde bartender with a colorful tattoo of a fish on his muscled bicep yelped through smoke-filled laugher. 

“Are you okay man?”

“I’m fine! I’m fine!” Ernesto offered back in between his own fits of intoxicating laughter and embarrassment. 

The noonday shoppers gave themselves sighs of relief and disbelief and dispersed back into their original capitalistic points of intention. However, Dustin’s capitalistic point of intention was The Blues House itself. This was his first day of employment here. He wondered if seeing a falling Mexican on the first day was a good omen or a bad one. Taken out of context, he felt it to be an evil talisman. But then again, there was that grin, Ernesto’s “I’m the cat who just ate the rat” grin. 

Good omen.

His first shift didn’t begin until 12:30 p.m., but he felt it would be best to make an early appearance for the first day. He was more than aware of his problems with tardiness. His own mother joked about how he was born two days early and that was the absolute last time he was early for anything in his life. So getting here at noon was no small feat for Dustin. This too he considered to be a plus.

Good Omen.

The Human Resources Manager, Cookie, and the Human Resources Assistant, Brian, both got promoted to their corporate equivalents at the corporate office located three miles east of the Blues House venue. In their wake was Mary, an African American woman in her late forties with warmed peach colored skin, short maroon colored hair, small, vermin-like eyes and an insanely large grin that was less Cheshire cat and more… Donkey. At least to Dustin, her new assistant. But of course, he would never say that. At least not on his first day. 

“Good morning Mary!” he bellowed.

“Good morning Dustin!” she offered back equally as cheerful. “We have a lot to go over today! Cookie and Brian really left a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up so we both have to hit the ground running! Why don’t you get yourself settled and then we’ll just start from the beginning! Would you like a cup of coffee?”

Normally aligned to refuse offers of food and/or drink from people he just met in hopes that such a refusal would somehow decrease his appearance as ‘slothful’ and thus not make him seem so much all of the 280 pounds at 5’7” that he indeed was, his first intention was to decline the kind offer. But then again, he figured, this was a new day; a new job, a fresh start, a new beginning… and it was just coffee after all. 12 ounces of coffee was not going to change the appearance of someone 5’7” and 280 pounds.

“Yes. Yes. I would love a cup of coffee Mary!”

“Well, uh, well, why don’t you go down to the kitchen and see if anyone is there and see if you can get some from down there or something.” She offered before returning to her office and taking a long, laborious sip of something steamy from her coffee mug. She never mentioned it was fifteen minutes before his shift started. 

Bad omen. Bad, bad omen.

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