The Guilty Party

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Readers' Choice

Readers’ Choice

Hi everyone,

This may or may not be a good idea, but to tell the truth I'm stuck and am looking for any possible way to get unstuck. From personal experience I can tell you that it is Next To Impossible (which is, of course, a whole different thing than Actually Impossible) to write a novel and lead an otherwise normal, family pleasing, income producing life. But I've done it, and so have a whole lot of other folks including some of you. So you'd think doing it again would be just a tad easier than the first time.

Not so.

Not when three novels are bopping around in ones head at once, all clamoring for what little time and attention there is to be had from me. The result is that none of them receives its proper due and all end up languishing.

So here is my request of you, Dear Readers: Tell Me Which Opening Draws You In. One by one I am going to post just the opening couple of pages to each of these gestating novels and I would be most beholden to you if you would weigh in on the attention grabbing, or snore inducing features you find. Just leave me a comment and after all three have been out there for a while I will see what the collective voice has to say.

I am fully prepared for "Dump "em all and try something completely different!" or even "Who do ya think you're tryin' to fool, ya no talent bum? They all stink!" If that's what you think, please let me know.

Here is the opening to the one that has been through the most changes. It is also the one with the least "in the can" in its current incarnation. It's called Dash.



Alan Hutcheson

Chapter One

Not all that long ago, Tuesday perhaps, in a land not quite so far away as you and I might like to think, there lived a youngish fellow named Dash Bailey.

Dash had a steady job, which he didn't particularly care for, and a steady girlfriend, about whom he hadn't examined his feelings in any real detail for some time. The job provided him with a predictable source of income and the girlfriend provided him with a predictable source of companionship. Dash was generally well liked among the other people at work, paid his bills on time, and never, ever forgot his mother's birthday. He washed his car twice a month whether it really needed it or not. And he always put out a small bag of store brand canned goods for the neighborhood scout troop to pick up on their scheduled pickup date. If there were no specials on store brand canned goods he fleshed out the offering with a package of paper napkins, which gave a nice, full appearance to the bag and had the added advantage of not overly taxing its weight capacity.

But at this moment in Dash's life he was not contributing to the nutritional and dining room etiquette needs of the underprivileged. Nor was he making himself agreeable to the other people at work or writing checks to his creditors or washing his car. He wasn't watching television with his girlfriend or visiting his mother. At this moment, the instant during which he was poised unawares directly above the fulcrum of his existance, Dash was looking over his fence.

The reason Dash was looking over his fence on what we now can state with some certainty was a Saturday and not, in fact, a Tuesday―he was a reliable employee and would have been at work on a Tuesday―was that moments earlier, as he was lounging on his back patio, reading his favorite sports magazine, Dash had noticed a quantity of dirt come sailing over his fence. A small portion of the dirt landed on the decking around his pool. The rest of it went splash into the pool. It was the splash that had attracted his attention.

While Dash was examining the dark and spreading mess in what had been his sparkling clean pool, another quantity of dirt came arcing over the fence, confirming his theory about where the first load had originated and its method of arrival. Unlike the first batch, most of this load did not make it into the pool. It was largely diverted onto the pool decking by Dash's back and head.

"What the hell?" Dash said. Loudly. "Hey!" He jumped out of the way of a third load of dirt, clearing it to land without interference in the pool.

He took another two or three cautionary steps to the side.

"Cut that out!"

He shifted position another couple of steps, just in case the dirt was voice-seeking. A fourth load came flying over the fence, taking the same general path as the first three, but with the exception of a few pebbles that bounced into the water, it came up short of the pool. And this time it had been preceded by what sounded to Dash like a muffled grunt and an equally muffled "Hyah!".

He shifted one more step away from the dirt trajectory, put his hands on top of the fence and boosted himself up. Dash had never seen his next door neighbor's backyard, admittedly a sad testament to the prevailing level of neighborly interaction in that and many other parts of suburbia, but what he saw then still struck him as more than a little surprising.

There were two trees of unremarkable pedigree and marginal robustness, one at either back corner. The rest of the space was lawn. Or rather it was webbed with spidery traces of discouraged looking turf where there weren't holes or large mounds of dirt. The holes were spaced about three feet apart in relatively neat rows going from the back of the house to the back fence and from one side fence to the other. It gave the yard a sort of gopher infestation look if the gopher involved had a thing for symmetry and was roughly the size of a Rottweiler.

"Hello?" Dash said in the direction of the hole that lined up best with ground zero on his side of the fence. "Hello?"


The reply, if it was a reply, came not from the hole, but from directly behind Dash. Both the reply's form and its direction came as a surprise to Dash. He lost his grip on the top of fence, tumbling back down, skinning his chin badly against the cement block on the way down.



It wasn't quite so loud as the first, which was good, since it came from right next to his left ear.

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A Bit About Me

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I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.