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Son of Lucas' Entry: Two Answers


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#1
Copper

Copper

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SoL wrote a story for the competition but he doesn't have access to a computer that can access nightly. So he emailed me his story and I have since copied and pasted it here in its entirely, thus completing my good deed for the year.



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Darryl scanned his study for a hiding place. He had one more plastic egg to hide for his daughter; a pink thing freckled in white and purple. In it was a picture of the canopied big-girl bed his wife, Robin, had picked out for her. The two parents had saved up just enough for the surprise gift for Trish. Indulging himself, Darryl put some thought into finding a place where he could be sure it would be amongst the last his four-year-old found.

Darryl bent down to study a promising spot on one of the shelves, but reluctantly discarded it as too high. Standing up his eyes caught a wooden bat positioned on a mantle hidden behind the bookcase. He reached out and lifted the bat from its hiding place. He hadn’t handled it in over a year, the once-white grip long since turned gray and black with the effects of dirt, weather, and the unmentionable.

“How do I live my life knowing what I did?”

* * * * * * *

It seemed that Grant asked that question one too many times. Darryl had been annoyed with him before, but this was the first time that he had tossed him into his truck dragged him out into the middle of nowhere. The morning fog had burned its way out by now. Grant was thankful for being able to see since Darryl had marched forth and constantly threatened to leave him well behind. More than once the only part of Darryl he could see through the thickness was the pair of orange shoes each of them had inherited from when they were released from the penitentiary. Evidently the warden deemed the extra expense worth it in the name of keeping a matching outfit.

After two hours and likely three times as many miles Darryl stopped. Grant hurried to catch up with him.

“Wasn’t sure if I’d find it, but I’ll be damned, it’s right here,” Darryl said gazing around at the trees. Soon he caught his bearings and headed to a tree which had littered the ground with thick leaves. Darryl pushed a few of them to the side exposing the dead dirt underneath.

Grant looked on, not amused. “What are you looking for?”

Darryl kept pushing the leaves around. “You know what your problem is Grant? You question things too much.”

In the abstract, Grant couldn’t disagree. In this particular situation, he thought his was being rather patient. Still, Darryl went about his business and soon uncovered a piece of wood wrapped in tape and ending with a knob.

“That better not be what I think it is,” said Grant eying the half buried handle sticking out of the dirt.

Darryl picked up the bat and measured its weight with one hand. “That it is. If the police knew where this was twelve years ago there’s no way they would have let me plead down.” He tossed it to Grant. “That right there is the difference between my standing free on this spot today and never seeing the light of day until I would be too old to care.”

Grant held it. It was heavier than the bats he remembered from his own little league days and said as much to Darryl as he tossed it back. “But why come all this way out here looking for it?”

“I told you, that thing was all that stood between me and freedom once,” Darryl said as he picked up a rock and sent it flying with a short swing. “I figured it could be the same for you.” He started walking towards Grant, bat on his shoulder. “Just one quick pop and that’s it for you. Trust me, it’s fast.”

Grant was off his stride, he knew Darryl was a killer just like him, but beyond that he really had no idea what went on deep in his mind. Darryl had always shrugged off his past whenever questioned on it. Like it was something that never happened. Not like Grant who saw that young man’s face in his mind every time he closed his eyes. He didn’t think Darryl was coldblooded, but…

“You’d really do that?” asked Grant trying to maintain his composure and trying to remember which way back to the interstate.

“Sure if you asked me too,” replied Darryl. “We’re friends right?”

“Well I’m not asking,” said Grant. “Just toss that thing back where you found it okay?”

Darryl looked mildly disappointed. “Well, okay. But I’m keeping it. I could have spent the morning that Robin chick instead of waiting for you to decide whether you wanted to live or die.”

“I never said I wanted to die,” Grant protest.

Darryl just rolled his eyes and started on the long walk back. By now it was getting towards midday and hot. But the shade from the trees kept them cool enough. Grant didn’t say anything the whole way back and Darryl, for his part seemed to be enjoying the chance for a nice nature hike on his day off.

* * * * * * *

It wasn’t until they were all the way back at the home Darryl had inherited from his father that Grant spoke again.

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Figured I’d mount it,” replied Darryl already sifting through his junk drawer for all the tools he’d need for his little project. “It can’t hurt me if anybody finds it now anyway.”

“Don’t you think that’s just a little…”

Darryl started pounding the nails into the wall. “Just a little keepsake. Don’t want to forget you know.”

Grant was tired of Darryl’s attitude. Least of all the notion that he would just forget. “Look, that thing is horrible. Throw it away, burn it, hell find a priest and put some holy water on it or something, but don’t put it on your wall.”

“Show some respect, she’s got a name: Serena.”

Even Grant, used to the blithe manner with which he mentioned his crime, was shocked by that. “You named your murder weapon.”

Darryl’s smile told Grant he had been playing him for exactly that reaction. “Don’t be silly. She already had a name before that. What kind of monster do you take me for?” With that he turned back and continued nailing the mantle into the wall. “My father hit the homerun to win his high school the district championship with this bat. It’s a family heirloom.”

Darryl wiped the sweat from his brow. “The original Serena was his old high school girlfriend. He told me she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen up close once when mom wasn’t around. She died in a car accident a few months before the game. Dad hit it out just for her.”

“That’s a beautiful story,” said Grant from the couch.

“Ain’t it just?” said Darryl finishing up the last stroke. “Anyway, that’s what I’ll tell my neighbors when they come to visit.” Darryl picked up Serena and slapped the head into his hand.

“Is it true?”

“Of course it’s true. You think I had a wooden bat sitting around in case I got the hankering to beat someone’s skull in with one?”

Grant felt overwhelmed, after stuttering for a few moments he finally spit out, “But how can you just go on like nothing’s happened?”

“Grant, I like you, but what do you want me to tell you,” said Darryl mounting Serena on the wall. “You and me are the rarest kinds of jailbirds, neither of us pretended it was anyone’s fault but our own. That tells me you’re a good man and that’s why I bothered you then, and that’s why I’m your friend now. Thanks to our lawyers, the two of us are still young men with half our lives ahead of us. Our debt is paid on this mortal plane. No denying we’ll burn in hell for what we’ve done, but for the next thirty years our lives are our own.”

“But do we deserve it?” asked Grant.

“I certainly don’t. Neither do you judging from the pictures I’ve seen. My God what did that man say to piss you off like that? And yet here we are. We’re both prisoners to what we did for the rest of our lives. Sooner or later you’re going to decide what that means to you. But you’re going to have to find the answer for yourself.”

* * * * * * *

Six years later Darryl was in his study wiping the dust off Serena with his thumb. Grant was dead now. Someone stumbled upon his body a week into the new year.

“It wasn’t the answer I hoped you’d find buddy. But I won’t say it was the wrong one.”

Darryl put Serena back in her resting place and palmed the plastic egg. Twenty-five years later and he was showing off his cleverness to a four-year-old. Never learning, never learning. But Darryl knew that about himself. That’s why he’d dragged Grant out to that field in the first place. The egg found its place behind the cushion where it would surely be the first one found by his daughter the next morning. Darryl deposited himself there a moment later.

From the coffee table Darryl lifted the portrait of his family they’d taken the day after Christmas. He gazed at the happy family looking at Robin then Trish then the man happier than he had any right to be after what he’d done. He let the whole of them fill his vision until he lost concentration and the happy family became a blur. With that he closed his eyes where, waiting for him as always, was the vivid image of that pitiful tear streaked face of a red-haired girl.

#2
Copper

Copper

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I'm not positive, but I think this is the first time I've ever read your writing. I liked this very much. You managed to make your characters both sinister and symphathetic. That's not an easy thing to do, and you accomplished it with ease.

I like that we get hints and teases of what Grant did, but we don't get the whole picture. It lets the reader's imagination run with it and often times that's scarier than reading a graphic recollection of a murder.

You should enter our contests more often!

#3
Thomas Alan

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I think you responded to that script I posted for that screenplay contest last year.

But this is probably the first you've read from me in prose format. I haven't written outside of the screenplay format in 3 years and was thinking about switching back for awhile. I mostly wrote this to see how much my skills have atrophied.

Maybe I'll throw together something as a proof of concept for my next project for you guys to read over and let me know if I'm on the right track.

#4
Sonny

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You are on the right track as this was excellent. Very dark and moody but where a lot of people are doing that to be hip or fit the flavor of the month I you have done it because it it fit the story you wanted to tell.

Also I just wanted to remark on the fact that I like your avatar.



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