As I have mentioned before, I am taking a short break from my fantasy series to explore some neglected areas of my writing. So, I started various side projects like Timber that I posted earlier, and this one. I don’t even have plans to make these into anything, they were just fun to write. These side projects are allowing me to escape from the confines of my planned out fantasy series, and all I have to do is start writing. Wherever it takes me, the destination is good.
For this little project I ventured into the life of a retired…well…I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave it at that.
Excerpt from “A Good Day to Die” – August 9th & 10th 2014.
The sound of sprinklers always got to James Pursley. Not in the bad way like when things just change your mood from good to grumpy, but in the calm and soothing way that made him feel young again. He listened to the sprinklers go “tick, tick, tick, tick, tickkkk!” The screams of neighborhood children playing around made him think of his childhood, when he too loved to run through the sprinklers.
He was laying back in his lounger on the earthy-stained wood deck in his backyard. His black aviators kept the glare of his neighbor’s solar panels from blinding his sensitive blue eyes. He lay there to soak in the rare Washington sunshine and the cloudless bright blue skies, speckled with low-flying jet airlines bound for Seattle-Tacoma International and Globemasters bound for JBLM to boot.
It was a jolly good day to be alive in his books, but unfortunately he had just sold them all at the community garage sales the past weekend. Got a couple bucks out of them old first editions though, he thought. And that was all right with him. Afterall, he was a retired man now. And boy was he glad to be done with that dark chapter of his life.
But, he was burning. He got up and walked slowly into the shaded half of his deck, where the overhang’s outdoor fan immediately left him feeling cool. He sat down at the table, slipping a clean black vinyl record onto his turntable. He slowly lowered the precious needle into the grooves as it began to pop and crackle. Then the soothing sounds of Jim Croce’s “Rapid Roy (That Stock Car Boy)” began to drift from the speakers. James sang along, not missing a beat.
Just as his favorite part of the song started to play, he grabbed his glass of iced tea and held it up in front of him, blocking his views of the majestic Mount Rainier and its snowy glaciers. “To forever and always. It’s a good day to be alive!”
The wind began to whip through his backyard, twirling his hanging flower baskets and blowing pine needles across the gray deck. Wind was frequent in his master-planned neighborhood, since it was positioned right along the forested edges of the top of a 500 foot tall hill. The wind always blew right through the gaps in the massive houses as it cruised on towards the Cascades. Even so, James was taken off guard.
What a way to end a gorgeous day! He thought. The wind will surely bring the clouds in.
But he supposed that was also alright. He had chosen to settle down in the south sound region, hadn’t he? He could have moved to Arizona or California, but he chose to return to his childhood home town. He had moved all the way across the country to return. He had done it for the mountains: the sunrise was always so spectacular coming over the snowy peaks. He did it for the clear rivers and creeks and forest lakes, where he could fish and catch those crawdads. Most of all, he did it because the west was free. It was the only place he could go hiking through the snow-covered mountain meadows at ten, take a ferry across the Puget Sound for a nice seafood dinner at five, marry a man at six, and smoke weed at seven, without seeming out of place. Of course, that would be the case if he was into any of that, which he could happily say he was not.
He liked it here, even the rush hour traffic on the I-5 and the 512. Hell, he even enjoyed watching the meth addicts tweak around south Tacoma on his way to downtown’s antique alley, even if it took half an hour to reach the city from the suburbs. Anything was better than his old life, and hadn’t he loved that too? Oh yes, he had loved every minute of it. Now, it all seemed so distant, like a dream he had awoken to last week.
High thoughts came to an abrupt end when he felt the ice cold edge of the knife to his throat, pushing against his stubbled neck.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Pursley. It’s been a while.”