Author Topic: aka: The Groom From Hell  (Read 8685 times)

Offline Nostrabuttus

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Re: aka: The Groom From Hell
« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2013, 08:07:23 PM »
Hi Youngbag,

You might consider deleting what I have in red and adding what I have shown in yellow. You can often eliminate a lot of "thats". Try not to use the word suddenly. Editors, the high dollar ones who actually edit best-seller's manuscripts will almost always strike through the words suddenly and very for some reason. Place a comma before "and then" no comma before the word "then".

Refrain from using "as" too much. You can also eliminate the overuse of the word "and". You can break those sentences into short ones. It flows a little better with shorter sentences.

I like some of the other comments you have received on this chapter.

Good story. It held my attention and I enjoyed reading it. I would continue, if there was more than one chapter to read here.

I hope this feedback on your first chapter helps you. Best of luck with this project. Looks  like a winner to me.

The Wedding Plan
Chapter 1

If it wasn’t for my knight in shining armor, I’d probably be in a rubber room now, writing love sonnets on the walls in my own excrement; either that, or dead.  Of course, I might also have been sitting on the porch, eating a box of Oreos - could ‘a gone either way.  Although I still have nightmares, mostly I’m just pissed off.  And by the way, if you’re reading this: I’ve changed my name and expatriated myself - because my life wouldn’t be worth a plug-nickel back home.  But, I will end up in a loony bin if I don’t tell my story:

My name was Regina Shackleford - ‘Reggie’ to my friends, and ‘Ragina’ (to rhyme with ‘vagina’) to my enemies.  I grew up on my family’s farm in Iowa.  Lest you think I’m just some dumb hayseed, be informed that I was educated at Texas A&M, and the only reason that I didn’t graduate was news from home, in my second-to-last semester, that my parents had suddenly become dead.

I had just returned to my dismal apartment, semi-comatose after an interminable chem lab, when I got the call from our dear neighbor Cece Whitman. I threw everything I could fit into my Ford pick-up, Geraldine, and raced home.  My mom and dad were not exactly young, and I suppose I had been trying to mentally prepare myself for the time when I would be left on my own - but the preparations had been completely inadequate. 

Many hours later, I pulled onto the dirt road that led to our farmhouse, having no idea how I’d gotten there.  Reaching the end, I sat for a moment, white-knuckled on the steering wheel; and stared at the fuzzy outline of our home through the early fog.  The rising sun turned the atmosphere into greyish-pink cotton candy, and I had to remind myself that I really was home.  At a certain point, I was able to make out the silhouette of Cece Whitman and I pushed open the door, hopped down onto my wobbly legs, and made my way toward her.
Cece’s husband, Joe, was a sheriff in the county and had apparently notified her that my ‘can’t-miss-it-red’ truck had been spotted screeching through town on two wheels, at break-neck speed. Cece met me at the porch with an apple pie and a pot of coffee.  She and her pie and coffee showed up in the event of births, deaths, chicken pox, jiltings and UFO sightings. 

“Oh goodness Reggie, I’m so sorry... it was so sudden.”  Unable to respond, I made a move to knock on the front door and caught myself as I remembered that no one was home.  “Oh, I have the keys honey...  Here, hold the pie and I’ll let you in.” I took the pie, and watched as Cece opened the door.  Suddenly overcome with fatigue, and lacking the will to go into the house, I sat down hard on the top step and began to cry.  I don’t think that I even had any conscious emotions at that moment - my face just suddenly started shooting out water like an irrigation system. Cece took her offerings inside and brought me out a cup of sweet, weak coffee.  “It was very quick, Reggie - they didn’t suffer.”

“Where, um, where are they?”  I managed between sniffs.

“They’re over at County General, for as long as you need.  Joe talked to ‘em over there.”

I spent the night on the sofa, in the clothes I had on, with the TV playing on for company.  I think I slept some, on and off for the next twenty-four hours or so, but I don’t remember dreaming.  The next night, I managed to retrieve my toothbrush from a duffle bag I had left in my truck - and I even made it to my own bed - but I still hadn’t changed my clothes.

The subsequent days were a blur and it wasn’t until I stood in the rain with the Whitmans, Pastor Reynolds, Roony Goodwynn; our farm manager, and a few folks from town, in our local boneyard, that reality began to set in.  It was Roony’s son, Tim, who had found my parents and phoned for help.

In his panic, Tim had tried alone to extricate them from the combine which had mistaken them for something to be harvested, and had staggered out of the barn covered in blood when ‘help’ finally arrived. Due to his state of shock, his gory appearance, and the stutter that rendered him unable to form a coherent sentence, he was given a tranquilizer and taken to the hospital.  The doctors were understandably perplexed, since they could find no wounds on him, but he finally became lucid enough to tell them to ‘l-l-look in the barn’...  which Joe Whitman finally did.  The mistake didn’t really make a difference - nothing could have been done to save them. 

I shivered slightly as Pastor Reynolds prayed and heaven continued to weep all over my parents’ caskets. The cold shower drove home the fact that I really was all alone.

My own friends had long ago abandoned the landscape.  Even the f***ing dog had died.  It was last month, and I was at school when my mother had called. She said, “Reggie, your brother has gone to be with God.” and I thought she had lost her marbles.  My brother, Robbie, had drowned when I was six; trying to save a child when a dam gave way, and then two years later my brother Ralph, who never got over it, died when a drunken utility pole stepped off the curb in front of his car. two years later.  They were much older than me, as I was another ‘accident’, and I had very few memories of them.

“My brother what, Mom?” I had asked cautiously.

“Your brother Sparky,” she choked, “He got rabies from a ‘coon and crawled up under the porch and died.  What a stink!  I’ve had all the windows open wide for three days.  Poor thing.”

The evening after the funeral, I sat alone in the dark at our kitchen table.  The ring of my cell phone startled me, as I was under the temporary impression that the outside world had ceased to exist.  I was surprised to hear the voice of Brent Havermoore, a guy I had briefly dated in Texas.

Handsome as all get-out, he’d seemed like a bit of a stuck-up asshole, and I’d made myself unavailable for months, since.  I can’t recall the details of the conversation - suffice it to say that I am a sucker for charming, handsome assholes and, in my loneliness, I heard my disembodied voice accept his offer to come stay with me.

As He arrived at the house in a rented convertible - top down, windows up; to keep the wind and dust from defiling his meticulously styled, and perpetually motionless, blond hair;  I watched from the window.  I remember thinking: It’s freezing outside... What an asshole.  The thought itself manifested in a voice I hadn’t acknowledged in a long time. It was Penelope, the imaginary playmate of my youth.

Penelope was my only real friend.  She may have begun as an imaginary playmate, but she evolved into something more.  She became a little girl who lives in my head, and in my altered state I was strangely comforted to hear her voice clearly again.  She is the only person that I ever really confide in, and she sometimes takes control and makes me say or do things that I wouldn’t ordinarily.   (Incidentally, she hated Brent from the get-go, but I told her to shove it.)

Brent walked deliberately to the step on the porch where I stood waiting, took me in his arms, and kissed me on the forehead. I melted like a popsicle in July, and then cried like a baby.

Brent spent his days in the kitchen; on the phone with his family’s lawyers, my insurance company, accountants and such - all the things I had no mind for at the moment.  Still somewhat stupefied, but grateful, I sat out on the porch with a cold glass, or hot cup of whatever, and tried to reassemble my mind and a plan for my life.  It was all so surreal.  In recent years, my parents hired out the actual farm work and had settled into more administrative positions.  What the hell had they been up to - to get mangled in a thresher?  In March?

Should I try to go back and finish school?   Should I sell the farm and move into the city, in Texas?  Should I keep the farm and move to the city in Iowa?  Did I return Cece’s pie dish?   What was that smell - did they ever scrape Sparky out from under the porch?
Speaking of smells, Brent Havermoore had a distinct one.  It cut through his cologne and mouthwash, and wafted up your nostrils and made you happy and giddy and reverent and humble and covetous - all at the same time.  It was the smell of butt-loads of money.

Completely discounting the fact that it wasn’t my money, I let myself revel in the sensation that I was wrapped in a big, green, cozy quilt of security.  And I felt myself falling for Brent. His affectations, which had been so annoying, somehow began to appear charming to me.   Suddenly it was cute, the way he fussed with his hair and clothes and used a moisturizing facial masque.

One afternoon, when I suggested a nice walk around the property, Brent agreed, but said he needed to change his clothes first.  Thinking that he had merely gone to find a warm sweatshirt, I nearly wet my pants laughing when he reappeared in white jeans, cowboy boots, and the garish garment that is often referred to as a ‘Cosby sweater’.  Through my convulsions, I tried to explain, nicely, what the joke was.  To my surprise and delight, he laughed along with me and I remember thinking: “There’s hope for him, after all.”  That night, we slept together for the first time - and when the cock crowed, I was hooked.

Somehow, what with the routine of having someone around to lean on, and that enticing smell of Brent’s, we sort of got engaged.

“Dumb ass,” says Penelope.

And I say ‘sort of’ because I can’t recall Brent ever actually asking me to marry him.  I simply found myself, according to Brent’s directions, planning my wedding.  There wasn’t much for me to do.  After my brothers died my parents sort of lost touch with the extended family.  I knew there were cousins my age out there somewhere, but I couldn’t recall their names.
LuAnn, my roommate in Texas, was the closest thing I had to a human friend at present, but she was conservative and  extremely religious, and frankly she depressed the crap out of me. Anyway, we’d sort of had a falling out when Penelope hijacked my mouth and asked her, “If you plan to get ‘raptured’ any minute now, why waste your time and money going to college?”

Brent said “Not to worry - we have people to handle most of the details - just look at dresses.”  It had already been decided that the event would take place at a luxurious place his family was connected with. 

Truthfully, I can’t even remember him ever saying that he loved me - I just kind of got caught up in the whole thing.

Double dumb ass,” says Penelope.

Bite me, I reply in my thoughts.

A few days after Brent’s arrival, Roony Goodwynn and his son Tim had arrived with the dawn.  They took pains not to disturb me as they resumed their responsibilities at the farm.  I remembered Tim from high school, and he’d always struck me as being a bit creepy.  He rarely spoke, due to his unfortunate stutter, so I remembered him as a bit of a ‘lurker’.  I can tell by the infinitesimal curling of his upper lip whenever Brent shows up, that he doesn’t think much of him.  Sparky probably would have made the same face.  Well, Brent is kind of an acquired taste, I admitted to myself.

I was in my bedroom one afternoon, magazines splayed on the bed, trying to decide whether I should get a full head of highlights for the wedding, or just a few chunky ones for drama, when there was a knock at the front door.  Passing my parent’s room on my way to answer it, I was surprised to overhear Brent talking on his cell phone behind the closed door.  Utilizing a trick one of my big brothers had taught me,  I gulped down the last of the iced tea in the glass I was carrying to the kitchen, and turned it into an ersatz stethoscope.  With my ear pressed against the bottom of the glass, I could hear quite clearly.  From what I could glean from one side of the conversation, Brent was talking to his ‘mama’, and referring to someone named ‘Lacy’; whose opinion was very important.
Another insistent knock on the front door nearly made me drop the glass, and I tiptoed quickly off to answer it.  It’s T-T-Tim.  He has kind of a worried look on his face, as he stands there with his hands in his pockets.  “Hi R-R-Reggie, how are you g-g-g-gettin’ by?”

“I’m doing okay, Tim, thanks for asking...  What can I do for you?”

“W-w-well, Reggie, I don’t mean to b-b-bother you - but, my paycheck b-b-b-bounced.”

“Oh, Tim, I’m so sorry,” I said, “I’ll take care of it right away.”  Then, in an accidental matter of mis-timing and distraction, I heard Brent emerge from my parent’s room and I shut the door in Tim’s face; right in the middle of his “Th-th-th-thank you.” (It was kind of a “Th-th-th...”  SLAM!)

There was no time to feel bad though...  “Who’s Lacy?” I blurted at Brent.  He looked shocked for a moment, then took my hand and led me to the loveseat.  “Well, Sugar,  the truth is: you are.  Daddy and Mama are old and set in their ways.  They’re expecting me to marry in a certain ‘echelon’, if you will, and until I can sit down with them face-to-face and explain the situation, I’m kinda letting them assume that I’m engaged to an old friend of the family that they’d had in mind.”

What?!” said Penelope, in my head.
But, I was so happy for an explanation that didn’t involve a rival, I swallowed the whole scheme gladly.  I just sat there and blinked.  “It’ll be fine, Sugar,” Brent said, “No one is gonna keep me from having you.”  Then he pulled me into his arms, and patted my silly, little head.

Author of humorous short stories, mainstream suspense, mystery, and thriller novels.
Twitter: @jmdavisauthor

Offline oldbag

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Re: aka: The Groom From Hell
« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2013, 02:46:08 AM »
You da bomb, Nostra!

(The only reason I made it through high school was: I hung out with the smart kids)
(Yup, I'm serious as a heart attack) :draw:

Regards and Karma,
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