Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Snowed" - excerpt

As an author, it's always fun to explore new ways to tell my stories. Quite often, that means finding a new voice. Most of the time, I write in third person point of view, but once in awhile I like to step into the character's shoes and use first person. This novel, "Snowed", is not only in first person, I decided to write it from a man's perspective. I hope I succeeded in capturing Mike's thoughts.

This is from the beginning of the story where we first meet Michael Reuben. It's his birthday, October 31st, and he wakes to find out that Mother Nature enjoys irony. The city has been crippled by weather and they're snowed in. If that weren't enough, Fate has an even more devastating trick to play on him....


"It's the worst snowstorm of the year!" The radio announced gleefully, waking me up.

What it fails to mention is that it's the only snowstorm of the year. Like it's some big thing, like we don't know. We live in a city where it snows from October to April. For it to be the worst snowstorm, wouldn't you expect for there to be something to compare it to? Maybe the guy meant to say, "It's the first snowstorm of the year!" That would make some kind of sense.

Or maybe, and I'm betting on this one, the guy's a moron. Soon, the phone calls, from other people like me who notice stupid stuff like that, will start up and they will have to amend what idiot boy said. I'm not calling in. I'm going back to sleep. I drive a school bus and school has been canceled by the worst (and first) snowstorm of the year.

Not that I'm complaining. Kids on a day like this, are impossible to control. You'd think they had never seen snow before. They've lived here since birth, still snow has this magical effect on them. Not a good one, just magical. It transforms even the brightest child into a complete buffoon. You can see their devious minds working, determined to figure out a way to mess up my bus, or fall under the wheels, or slide into traffic.

I was just snuggling down, going back to a blissful sleep, when the phone rang. Knowing it can't be good news on a day like this, I hesitated to answer. I can't stand a ringing phone, so I picked up, running my fingers through my shoulder length, brown hair.

"Mikey?" A shrill, nasal distinctly Brooklyn voice shouted in my ear.

"Ma?" Grumbling, I sat up. I never lie down to talk to my mother, it puts in me in a vulnerable position. "Why are you calling this early, Ma?"

"Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you...." She has a horrible voice and sings off key. Imagine Edith Bunker, only less melodic.

"Yeah, thanks, Ma."

She didn't stop. She was starting with, "How old are you?"

"Ma, please. You know how the hell old I am. You gave me life. You were there."

"Yes, at this time on October 31, 1982, I had my bouncing baby boy! Happy Birthday, Mikey."

"Thanks, Ma."

I love my mother, but this is why I moved over a thousand miles away to Cheyenne, Wyoming as soon as I had the money. I was on my way to Alaska, figuring putting the better part of two countries between us, but my car broke down in Cheyenne. I couldn't afford to fix it and couldn't afford to buy a new one at the time, so I got a job and an apartment and stayed. I've been here five years. It's not so bad if you can handle wide open spaces. I'm getting used to it – sorta. If you don't mind seven different shades of gray in the winter, with no leaves on the few trees there are, with what feels like 90 mile an hour winds and a wind chill factor of 100 below, it's okay.

The fact that I am 1,743 miles away from Kings County, New York is a decided plus. My mother hates to fly and there is no way she'll drive 27 hours just to see me. She can't stand the bus or the train either and no one in their right mind would travel with her anyway, so I'm safe. Except on my birthday and over the phone.

"So how's my little Mikey-wikey like being 27?"

"It's peachy, Ma."

"Do you have a girlfriend yet?"

"Mother, please. Do we have to start on that?"

"Your younger brother is married with three kids."

"I can't help he can't keep it in his pants, Ma. I haven't found the right girl."

"Are you sure you're not gay?" The tone was teasing, but the old bitch meant it.

Normally, such a question wouldn't offend me. Because even if I'm not married with three kids like my brother, I've gotten more tail than he'll ever get. Sweet, luscious, all kinds of sexy tail.... And I'm talking to my mother with my balls in a vice. Because even if I've gotten more than him, it's not been so much lately.

"I got to get ready for work, Ma. I got a long day with the bus. Kids got a field trip."

"I'd think you could give five minutes to your mother." She sniffled, pulling the New York Guilt Trip on me. "The woman who loves you. The woman who gave you life!" She was really pouring it on, pulling out all the stops. "Who lives so far away, she can't see her oldest son on his birthday! Her son who is almost 30!"

"Don't be adding years to my age. Twenty-seven is not almost 30!"

"Almost 30! You'll be 30 before I get a single grandchild from you. The fruit of your loins, the...."

"Ma! I get the idea." I totally hate when she starts like that. Fruit of the Loom, maybe I want to discuss with my mother. Fruit of my loins is not on the list of top 10 subjects for parental discussion.

"I called to tell you I'm coming for a visit," she said quickly and hung up.

"Ma! Ma?"

Cursing loudly, I sat there yelling at a dead phone. I called her back in a New York minute. Her tone was very smug.

"I see. Now you have time to talk to your mother."

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