I’m going to try something different. I don’t know if it will work, but I hope it would pique your interest in my work, even if just a little.
I’m calling it The I.V. or The Inside View—a sneak peek at a story either from my collection, Along the Splintered Path, or one of the stories up at Smashwords (and maybe even some other pieces out there in the world).
This is a double-edged sword, one side meant for me, the other side meant for you, the reader. The first edge is meant to make you curious about one of my stories—or all of them. Far be it from me to limit you if you want to read my work.
The second edge is a bit sharper than the first. It’s meant for you, the reader. As much as I want you to like my work, to buy my work and to spread the news among the masses, I also don’t want you to purchase something you’re not going to like. If anything, I want you to enjoy what you read and not regret spending your money on me.
You see, writers and readers have a relationship. It’s kind of like dating. My job is entertaining you, to keep you happy. If I can’t do that, you will move on and find another guy or gal who can do the job. However, if I can entertain you enough, maybe, in return, you’ll think me worthy of your time and your reader’s mind. I’m always looking for new readers.
This first installment of The Inside View is from Phillip’s Story, the lead piece in Along the Splintered Path. This is not from the beginning of the story, but a little later on. This is part of the introduction to Hollis and Thad, brothers without enough sense to keep themselves clean, both of whom are tired of living from hand to mouth.
I hope you enjoy this first installment of The Inside View. If you do (or even if you don’t) feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think.
It’s greatly appreciated.
From Phillip’s Story
They pulled up to Burt’s Quickie Shop. Thad backed in and left the car running. They tied the bandanas around their necks and made their way for the door. For them, scouting out the place meant making sure there were no other customers. Only Burt’s beat-up truck sat in the parking lot and it was beside the store, not in front.
With that, they opened the door. The bell above the door jingled like it was supposed to, alerting Burt to new customers. Aisles of candy and chips and oils and other whatevers that all convenience stores seemed to carry lined out in front of them. Drink coolers sat along the back wall, keeping those beverages nice and cold. Splitting two of the refrigerators was a hall with three doors, two to the right, one to the left. Placards jutted out like street signs telling customers the first door on the right was for MEN, the second for WOMEN and the one on the left was for EMPLOYEES ONLY.
No need to bother with pretending to shop. They went straight to the counter where Burt swept the area behind it. There was a small television on a pedestal that dropped down from the ceiling. Screening it was a news anchor, her lips moving silently as she spoke in muted tones. Running in a ticker tape line beneath the woman was the daily news–all that’s fit to tell.
“Give us your money,” Thad said, trying to sound intimidating, even with his voice shaking.
Burt’s brows lifted and he stopped sweeping. “Get out my store, you punks.”
“Give us your money, old man or–”
“Shut up,” Thad said to Hollis and swatted at him.
“He’s giving us lip, Thad.”
Thad, older by three years and the more intelligent of the two, shook his head, swatted his brother again. “I said shut up and don’t use my damn name, dumbass.”
“I’m not a dumbass,” Hollis said.
In truth, he was. Hollis Williams, the third of five kids, all boys. He could never lay claim to being all that smart. A sixth grade education was had only after three tries and by then everyone knew he wouldn’t get far in life. Working at a McDonald’s or cleaning someone else’s trash out of bathrooms. If he was lucky, trash would be all he cleaned. Hollis wasn’t so lucky. He washed dishes at the local Mexican restaurant and he swore up and down he was the token redneck amongst all those Mexicans. Hollis had never hated Mexicans until working with them and hearing the broken English or all-too-fast Spanish they spoke. Their laughter at jokes often made him wonder if he was the butt of them. When he wasn’t washing dishes, he cleaned their bathrooms. It was an insult, he thought and his brothers ragged him about it all the time.
Thad, the oldest of the five, though he could lay no claim to being all that smart either, came to him and said, “I’m tired of strugglin’ like this. I’m gonna rob a couple stores and get some money. You want in?” Of course, Hollis wanted in.
And there they stood at the cash register in Burt’s Quickie Shop. Hollis was angry. Burt talked back to them and he would be damned if Thad didn’t just call him a dumbass again. He drew his gun and aimed it at Burt.
The round man behind the counter, his hair–or what was left of it–silver and in swirls on top in a bad comb-over, put his hands in the air. The broom dropped to the floor and made a loud CLACK that startled Hollis.
The boom of the pistol rang in his ears for several seconds after squeezing the trigger. The television behind Burt exploded in a spray of sparks and glass. Burt ducked, his hands over his head.
“What the hell’s wrong with you?” Thad yelled and swatted at Hollis again. “You trying to kill someone?”
Hollis stumbled over his words, his lips and tongue and jaw not wanting to work together. “I… I … It was… I… didn’t mean to. It… just–”
The creak of the men’s bathroom door was followed by the loud bang of it closing. Hollis–nervous and jumpy as hell–spun on one heel and aimed. The man’s eyes widened. They were brown. The man had bolted from the bathroom at the sound of the gunshot, probably scared enough to almost piss himself. He was buttoning his pants when the door slammed. Three fingers were still pulling up the zipper when the first of two bullets struck him. He stumbled back as the bullet tore into his chest and before he could tumble all the way to the floor, the second one took off the top of his head.