Paul appeared out of the darkness and barreled through the diner door. The little bell clanged noisily against the plate glass. A few of the customers turned to look at him, then turned back to their beer and pretzels. The Seahawks were playing the 49ers. It was a close game and late in the season. A playoff berth was on the line. Paul looked pale and shaken. He scanned the diner with terrified eyes and finally saw his friends. He came up to them and leaned on the Formica table. His hands slipped from the sweat on his palms. He nearly fell flat on his face. Jerry looked up casually, a cigarette dangling from his mouth like James Dean. “Whoah, Paul! Where’s the fire?” “There’s no fire,” he said in a frantic voice, “but there’s something you have to see.” He peered out the window toward Turner’s Mountain.
“Like what?” Tim said without emotion. He cracked open a peanut.
“It’s better if I show you,” he said ominously. “Otherwise you’ll never believe me.”
“Don’t be so dramatic, Paul,” Christopher laughed and took a gulp of beer. “You know how you get.”
“This is different, Chris. This time it’s for real. What I saw will blow your mind, but we should go now before someone else finds it.”
Jerry tried to pacify his friend. “Will you settle down? Have a seat and let me get you a beer.” Jerry motioned to the waitress for another round.
“No. I don’t want a beer!” he said harshly. “You don’t understand. This can’t wait. We have to go now!”
I came across this phrase in my research and it arrested my attention. The author was referring to the primal fear of the dark that terrified early man. It’s so cool when we come upon phrases or sentences or whole pages that make us believe there’s a writer inside us, lurking in us like a virus spreading its disease until it comes out raw and uncensored. A real writer, not just the fluff we see in grocery stores, but words that convey meaning or humor or whatever it is we’re trying to get across. That’s what we’re all after, isn’t it?
I’ve often wondered what it is that gets one author published and another not? Please share your thoughts.
…When I looked up I saw a hazy figure striding across the road. At first I thought it was a deer but in the next moment I knew it was a man. I slammed into him before I could brake. I heard the thud of him slamming into my hood and then saw his head turn my windshield into a spider web. I skidded to a stop and the man flew forward and landed face-up on the road surface. He didn’t appear to be moving. I got out and went to check on him. I couldn’t hear any sound—no breathing or moaning. I felt his neck for a pulse and couldn’t detect one.
My thoughts raced. My first instinct was to race back to my car and dial 911. Halfway back, though, I had second thoughts. Clearly this wasn’t my fault. But I’ve been drinking and I’m legally under the influence. I’ve killed a man. Will I end up in prison for this? Vehicular manslaughter? Felony hit and run? Will the prosecutor twist the facts to use me as an example and further his political future? I can’t trust the legal system. It’s broken. Everyone knows it.
I thought I heard a car coming. Acting quickly I dragged the dead man under his arms off the road and lay him on the side. I then hopped back into my car and sped away. I stopped at a convenience store and dialed 911 on a pay phone. I told the operator what had happened. “Send help!” I said. She asked for my name but I just hung up. A short while later I sat outside my house until my nerves began to calm. I went inside and poured myself a drink. My wife looked at me in a funny way but said nothing.
I slept fitfully that night. I remember having some foggy dreams of hitting a deer with my car and then the deer morphed into a man. I woke before my wife and went out to inspect my car. In addition to a splintered windshield the hood was dented, as was the grill. I didn’t hear my wife come out of the house. “What are you looking at, hon?” she asked from the porch. I turned with a jerking motion. “I hit a deer last night,” I said without hesitation. “Will the insurance cover it?” “I’d rather avoid them.”
The accident was on the evening news the following night. It turns out the man was alive when they rushed him to the hospital, but he died later. I felt awful when I learned I had left him dying on the side of the road alone, and I was ashamed to feel a little relieved to discover he was dead. I know I’d be in big trouble if the victim had been able to identify me or the make and model of the car. The news reporter asked anyone with knowledge of the hit-and-run accident to call the police…
Even the greatest of writers get stuck. Can’t find the right words. Want to stay away from cliches. Want to use a fresh way of saying something. What do you do to get through the tough times?
This is the place where all unpublished writers live! Share your story.