Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Johnny's Run...

...since the first of the year, I've been drumming on a project, something a bit different from the usual sports-themed, Mitch Albom type of stories that I most enjoy penning.

Some time ago, a critique partner suggested I consider writing a little something in the romance genre.  I scoffed at the notion, considering my masculinity at stake.  

"Okay, whatever," was her response.  "But like it or not, you're a sensitive writer.  I think you'd do well."

"Well, maybe," I grumbled, setting aside the idea for later consideration.  "It'll leave me something to think about on a rainy day."

...that rainy day arrived, and from it, "The Fall" was born.

A month ago, give or take, I introduced Jessica.  I do believe it's now Johnny's turn to say hello...

It's still in infancy, but regardless, feel free to offer your thoughts... ;)

...5:45 p.m.

A groan rises from his throat.  It leaves his mouth only to be quashed by the sounds of impending road rage festering from either side.

How could this be happening?  He absolutely had to be there by six.  He'd promised.

The drone of a nearby horn, this one from a semi, returned his attention to the bedlam stretched out before him.  Cars and trucks of various sizes, lined up and boxed in, clogging both lanes of the road, engines humming, others grumbling, a few elderly models spewing clouds of smog into the air.

And rising in the distance, ribbons of soot, like oily snakes, etching black creases through an otherwise cloudless afternoon.

Leaning out the window, Johnny figures the wreckage to be strewn about along the mouth of the Cooper River Bridge.  Most likely sightseers, too busy admiring the massive structure to pay any attention to their neighboring driver.  A common occurrence.  

Johnny follows the trail of steel cables rising to a peak, eyes squinting against the sun's late day grin.  Upon completion, the bridge had quickly become one of Charleston's most impressive attractions.  An engineering masterpiece connecting the outside world with Battery Street, Fort Sumter, and the historic cobbled streets of the Old South.

For Johnny, the Cooper River Bridge stands for something else entirely.  He chooses to avoid the route whenever possible.  And when forced into crossing Cooper's irritable current, he never looks down.

The urge to offer another scowl at the clock proves too difficult to avoid.

A trio of digital numbers smile in return.  5:44.

His patience waning, fingers drumming on the steering wheel, Johnny spots an approaching patrolmen, weaving through the logjam on foot.

Noticeably overweight, the police officer shimmies and slides between plastic bumpers and vibrating tailpipes, at times rising on tip toe to avoid making contact with countless vehicles sweltering in the heat.  He comes to a stop several car lengths from Johnny's late model four-door, arms spread, palms rising and falling in an attempt at quieting what had become a cursing ruckus.

"It's blocked both lanes, I'm afraid," the policeman explains, chest heaving as if recently taking part in the yearly 5K run.  "Glass and wreckage scattered half way to Summerville.  It's a mess, but if ya'll can remain patient, we'll get things squared away real soon."

A chorus of grumbling travelers prevents Johnny from hearing the one piece of information he'd been hoping for.  Sensing the minutes slipping through his fingers, he lunges forward, narrowly missing the swing of a nearby fist, a man sending a roundhouse right through the air in frustration.  


The aging cop ducks his shoulders as if fearing an assault.  He turns, sees Johnny coming fast, and clutches the belt stretched across his waistband, fingers resting on the butt of his Taser.  

Johnny skids to a stop, sensing the man's reluctance, and lifts both hands into the air.  "Please sir, I just really need to know how long the clean-up's gonna take.  I'm supposed to be somewhere."

Trails of perspiration drain from the officer's neck as if he were standing under a shower head.  His cotton shirt, most likely white when he clocked in that morning, was now stained to a dingy gray.  He exhales a sigh, realizing Johnny's intent, and runs a thick forearm over his scalp.  Amid the chaos of screaming toddlers and flailing suits cursing into cell phones, the weary policeman studies the young man before him, considering his dilemma.  Perhaps noticing the sincerity etched into his brow.  Then he leans forward, a set of round shoulders slumping beneath the weight of moistened cotton and fatigue.

"I'm sorry, son.  But unless you can run for it, you won't be gettin there anytime soon."

Johnny's gaze lowers to the pavement.  He's about to turn back in the direction of his car, when he stops, repeating the cop's words under his breath.  "Run for..."

The policeman again places his hands upon his hips.  "You all right, son?"

Johnny opens his right hand, studying the car keys clutched inside.  Then he turns to the officer, whose expression had grown to one of irritable curiosity.

"It's the beige Honda sitting behind that red pickup truck," he says.

Before the policeman can answer, Johnny swings his hand through the air as if waving farewell to a departing ship, his fingers releasing their hold on the keys.  A flash of silver sails in an arc, over the roof of an idling Toyota.  They bounce off the cop's belly, and offer a jingle as they fall to the pavement...

Thanks for reading ;)



Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Poor overweight officer. I really felt his pain at how hot and sticky the day was and with the intensity of the traffic and the rising emotions of everyone around him.

Donna Hole said...

Thanks for the introduction El. I love your easy writing style that conveys so much emotion and description without a lot of words.

I'm intrigued to find out why Johnny avoids the Bridge, and where he is going. Yeah, I'd love to turn the page and read on :)


Anne Gallagher said...

You've done it again. Left me wanting more. You're such a tease. And hey, thanks for the stuff for Friday. I'm going to link up to this if that's okay.

Anne Gallagher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roland D. Yeomans said...

As everyone else has said, you drew us in masterfully. Johnny better not be too attached to that Honda! That better be some lady he's heading for! I can see a stack of tickets in his future! LOL. Roland

Elliot Grace said...

Hey Michael, thanks so much for your thoughts, glad you enjoyed it ;)

Hey Donna, I think perhaps this is why writing romance, (and yes, there is some of that,) was suggested that I look into. Although, rest assured, I won't be making a habit of it ;)

Hey Anne, very sweet of you, thanks. Looking forward to Friday, and yes, you have permission to link up to my stomping grounds as you wish.

Hey Roland, so glad you stopped by, and for your thoughts. That Honda is the last thing on his mind at the moment ;)

I'm working on a shorty just for Blogger, something honoring some of my newest friends and followers, along with a few of my old pals as well.


Elise Fallson said...

Nicely done here and has me asking all kinds of questions and wishing I could "turn the page!" Will be on the look out for a part 2. (:

The Golden Eagle said...

I love the description of the scene. The setting and the characters really came across well!

Elliot Grace said...

Hey Elise, thanks so much for stopping by, and for enjoying the excerpt ;)

Hey Eagle, no better way to start off my Friday morning, than by reading an uplifting compliment from a respected critic as yourself. Thanks so much!


Elise Fallson said...

Hey Elliot, me again, just wanted to let you know I've passed along a blog award your way. When you get a moment, come check it out. (:

Melissa Sugar said...

You do have a sensitive voice for romance. What a teaser; I want to read more. BTW, I love the word "quash" as well. I wonder if it is a southern thing?

M Pax said...

Very nice. When is this one coming out? My friends who write romance and erotica sell very well, like actually make decent livings at writing. Has me thinking about it, too.

Helen Ginger said...

Left me wanting to read more. I really felt the heat (and am wondering just how sweaty he'll be when he gets there).

Megan Adamson said...

I loved reading this, it left me wanting more...what happened next?

Elliot Grace said...

Hey Melissa, lordy, I've now got people coming up to me at the dayjob using "quash" in a sentence just to see my response! Thanks for stopping by ;)

Hey M Pax, I've heard of the same stories as well, leading to my anticipation of this one's release. One can always hope ;)

Hey Helen, thanks for stopping by, so glad you enjoyed my teaser!

Hey Megan, I call it a romance, but its more reminiscent of a drama, come to think of it. Plenty of action and heartache. Glad you enjoyed it ;)


Jessica L. Foster said...

Cool story. I can totally picture the police officer. Thanks for sharing.

Gina Gao said...

This is a really well written story. I really enjoy reading your stories.


Elliot Grace said...

Hey Jessica, glad you liked it. Imagery I can do, cleaning house...according to the good wife, that's a different story ;)

Hey Gina, so happy that you stopped by, and enjoyed my scribbling!


Robert Guthrie said...

"But like it or not, you're a sensitive writer. I think you'd do well." Three cheers for wise friends! Good luck on the new endeavor.

Jax said...

I think it was written very well! Sometimes authors lose me in an overdose of description. You kept it descriptive enough while making it intriguing! Great job :)

Honey said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and following it! I see you're thinking of changing genres too. I'm actually drawn to male authors, all genres. I like the cut and dry approach vs. the emphasis on emotion. You're writing is very good!

momto8blog said...

oh yes...keep writing!!! I think we are all sensitive and when you have a talent for conveying that human quality everyone relates at some level. those days are gone when only women are sentimental...my husband cries even at the chick flicks..I never cry...
I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

Elliot Grace said...

Hey Robert, thanks for the compliment, and for stopping by ;)

Hey Jax, that's the trick, show vs. tell, without showing so much that a reader forgets its a story and starts imagining an oil painting, the thing just sitting there, looking pretty, but doing nothing of interest.

Hey Honey, thanks so much for your thoughts. This one's a novella of sorts, but I'm still playing around at this point, keeping my fingers crossed ;)

Hey Momto8blog, thanks for stopping by, and the support ;)


Nicki Elson said...

Your descriptions are stunning. You put us right in that hot mess. Great, great place to leave off this snippet. Run, Johnny, run!

And how excited am I to learn that your new story is a romance? The answer is...very. :)

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