=Kazbat028's the River of Dreams (Chapter One)
Alrighty, so this is the first chapter of a short novella called 'The River of Dreams.' I fell asleep one night listening to the Billy Joel song and woke up with this in mind.
Go crazy, be brutal.
Also, I've heard that my writing sounds a lot like Stephen King's.
So again, go crazy, be brutal.
There are four more chapters so far.
Disclaimer- Strong language, sexual themes.
Secrets and Losses
Here is this damn river again. He’s been here every night for three weeks, exactly. He used to come here in his childhood, too, but he had gone from here for almost twenty years.
Now he has returned.
He looks disdainfully over the churning rapids again. He sweeps the banks on either side, looking for a bridge. Once again, he finds nothing. It runs like the night, he thinks. He has thought that same thought twenty-one times over these three weeks.
Dave briefly considers trying to swim it. Another look at the thrashing river tells him that it’s not an option. It would spell death for him and his doppelganger-Other Dave, as Dave has come to know him. He stands on his tiptoes, trying vainly to see what lies just beyond the underbrush on the other side. A red flash? No. Simply imagination.
Dave feels a sudden wave of sleepiness. Other Dave is stirring. Maybe I should sleep, he says. Something might be different tomorrow. Dave lies down carefully beside a large boulder. He closes his eyes in this world and
September 30, 2001: 7:00 AM
Dave Ryan opens his eyes. He’s had the same dream for almost three weeks now, he recalls dimly. He’ll forget that later on. He’s forgotten that thought every morning since the dreams began; it seems unimportant to him. It runs like the night, he thinks pointlessly, and brushes it off.
He brings his hands slowly up to his face, and wipes the sleep from his weary eyes. Applying a tremendous amount of effort, he brings his legs around to the side of the couch. His bed is occupied by his wife. Things haven’t been so great between them recently- Shelly has become increasingly distant. Dave misses the feel of her long red hair, and the sweet cherry taste of her lips.
He stands up, and almost immediately sits back down. The muscles in his legs are fighting him this morning, squirming every which way but the way he wants. Dave bravely tries again, rallying his body into a controlled motion. His legs decide to co-operate now, and the muscles in his legs straighten hard and fast. A small moan of pain escapes his thin pinkish lips, but he manages to remain standing, and starts a pained, slow gait towards the refrigerator.
An hour has passed, and Dave’s muscles have finally warmed up to his demands. He’s taken his daily shower, and eaten a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. Now, he’s dressing himself in an incredibly dull suit. Sometime long ago, Dave cared about his looks. That changed when he learned how to be General Manager of Sales for Phoenix, Arizona and Area. This title sounds quite a bit more impressive than it actually is, and it pays almost as little as the title is worth.
To get this esteemed position, though, Dave had to give up a lot.
First, he gave up his morals. He learned quickly about how to deny deserving old ladies life insurance, and learned to say ‘no’ to life-saving surgeries. He sometimes wondered how many people he had killed, and only found more misery.
Besides, you didn’t kill them, The Father would tell him, you denied their life insurance.
Yes, Dave! It’s true! The Little Voices would chorus.
Completely different story, assured the Father.
Completely different, Dave!
The Father had always been the undying optimist in him, finding the silver lining on every cloud. Dave wondered if it was strange to hear voices in his head.
Everyone hears these, assured the Father. Dave let it by. Why bother even thinking about it? He had a job to do, and a wife and kids to provide for.
Second, he completely erased every single iota of remaining individuality within him. He donated all his flashy suits (a good many were worthy of Don Cherry himself) to a charity. In lieu of these, he bought seven gray suits, seven white shirts, and seven dark red ties. This complete elimination of self started the process which pulled him and his wife apart.
Thirdly, he learned how to brownnose. Dave quickly realized that kissing ass was essential in the corporate world. He did unpaid overtime, babysat his boss’s daughter, and even configured the whole office network free of charge.
And what had it earned him? A crappy job at an unknown insurance company that charged high and paid low. An estranged wife and children. And a complete lack of friends. Sure, there were the high-class socialites who he associated with. But did he actually care for any of them?
No, thought Dave.
Of course you do, interjected the Father.
Dave left it at that. In his experience, arguing with the Father only ended in massive headaches.
Dave finishes getting dressed, and takes the keys for his third-rate SUV off the key hook. Beside them, the keys to his wife’s Bentley mock him silently. It took him nearly two years of continuous saving, but he pulled it off in time for his tenth anniversary. His wife soon became extremely protective of the vehicle, and therefore Dave drove his old SUV.
The auto-unlock on the key had long since broken. Dave rams the keys into the manual lock and turns. The door flew open in creaking protest. A musty smell gusts out from the cab and buffets Dave’s senses.
“Fucking McDonalds…” Dave mutters under his breath, referring to the old fast food cartons in the backseat. He can never find time to clean, so the food festers and stinks but never actually gets cleaned.
Dave floods the engine the first time around. He curses loudly. The second time, the engine kicks into gear, spluttering and smoking. Black swirls of smoke are ejaculated rudely from the exhaust valve. The smell of gas overwhelms the smell of old food for a moment, once again stunning Dave’s senses and making his eyes water. He jams on the accelerator. The old engine screams in protest - it’s still in neutral. Dave grabs the transmission, yanking it backwards, and stepping on the accelerator again. The car zooms out of the cracking driveway, and on to the road. Today is a lucky day for Jimmy Krackner. The bumper of the car stops about three inches from the toddler’s face. Jimmy simply stares at it blankly, cocking his slightly hairy head to the right.
Unobservant, Dave turns his car rudely towards the road, and drives away at an unsafe speed. Jimmy Krackner’s mother comes running outside, shrieking and waving her middle finger at Dave. She scoops up her son and brings him back into the house, still shrieking. Jimmy, scared out of his toddler wits, begins sobbing.
At the first crosswalk he comes to, Dave has to slam on the brakes. Another bone-jarring screech echoes out from the car. The man he stopped for looks at him curiously, and Dave sees his eyes: Bright blue, and shining with an incredible, unfathomable intelligence. Just as he steps on the accelerator, Dave notices that the man has something strapped to his hip.
A six-gun? Asks Dave inside his head. He can’t quite see what exactly it is.
Don’t be stupid, says the Father chastely, why would anyone who had a six-gun wear it strapped to his hip?
It WAS a six-gun, and you know it. A voice that Dave has come to know as Erica. She seems to be the exact, pure opposite of the Father.
Why would he be holding a six-gun? Asked Dave.
He was a cowboy, says Erica. Which may well have been true: The blue-eyed man had been wearing a red kerchief around his neck, and a cowboy hat to boot. His leather clothing was reminiscent of every Clint Eastwood movie he had ever seen. His leather boots may have even had spurs on them.
Once again, don’t be stupid, scolds the father, Cowboys? In 2001? Get real.
Yeah Dave! Get real! Yell the Small Voices.
Dave silently yearns for the two competing voices to be silent, so that he can drive safely. Erica responds tauntingly:
Because you were driving SO safely before, she says.
He didn’t hit anybody, retorts the Father.
Shut up, you two, says Dave. There is silence-for now. Dave knows that it will most likely not last long. He looks up to see that there a long line of cars had built up in his temporary ‘absence’. They are all honking, and a few more irate drivers that are screaming at him from their cars. It’s a wonder no one has shot him.
Nobody wears a six-gun to shoot you with, interjects The Father.
Silence in his head. Honks and yells on the outside.
Dave slams the accelerator, and speeds through the crosswalk. No sign of the blue-eyed cowboy. He turns a sharp left, and head towards the downtown area of Phoenix.
The rest of Dave’s working day is unimportant.
When we rejoin Dave, it is at four-thirty PM (that is, post-meridian) on September 30th.
September 30, 2001: 4:30 PM
“Dave, you look tired,” says Dave’s boss, appearing quite suddenly over the cubicle wall.
“I’m fine,” replies Dave nonchalantly.
“You should go home, and you know, spend some quality time with the wife.”
“Thanks, but I’ll be fine, Mr. Cunningham.”
“I think maybe you should take a nap.” More of a statement than a question. Dave takes it for what it is, and stands up.
“You’re right,” he says. In his head though, he’s thinking
Fuck you, you know damn well that I need my overtime today, you know it
You know it
You know it
He knows it, says Erica.
How could he know about your financial situation? Asks the Father pointedly.
Dave takes his ugly leather briefcase and walks out the door, grabbing the keys to his SUV on the way out.
While Dave vainly attempts to start the car, let’s examine some facts.
Dave regularly gets off work at approximately seven o’clock. Today, he leaves at four-thirty.
That creates a leeway of about two and a half hours.
Lots can happen in two and a half hours.
Dave has finally kicked the old rusty engine into drive and is cruising down the highway towards his house. He speeds past three cars with ‘Baby on Board’ signs, two with blue-and-white handicap stickers on them, and a nearly rear-ends a bright pink VW Bug.
After all these near-catastrophes, he arrives at the last crosswalk before his house. He half-expects the Modern Cowboy (name courtesy of Erica) to show up, shooting away with his six-guns
He has no six-guns.
They were strapped to his hips.
But he isn’t there, and Dave continues his exceedingly aggressive driving into his suburb. He violently speeds toward his house, and backs into the driveway without much care. He kicks open the door to the SUV (it’s old and very rusty). The walk to his front door seems exceptionally long today. When he does at last reach it, he turns the knob, and opens the door to insanity.
The first thing he sees upon opening the door is his wife, Shelly. She’s lying on the couch, back pressed rudely against the blue suede of the cushions. He has time to register one thought
before a blind and furious rage consumes his body. He springs into action, running at the man who his kissing his wife. Touching his wife. He looks up from her lips, and backs off a step. He stands up suddenly, too shocked for words. Dave delivers a swift blow to his upper jaw, and the stranger
The new lover
This is why she’s always tired
Is sent sprawling and hits the floor with a deafening crash.
“Get OUT!” Dave screams, and the new man races across the floor, barely stopping to grab his pants before he bolts out the back door. Dave turns on his wife, not wanting to speak.
Shelly is smiling a nasty, naughty grimace.
“It’s been months now,” she says tauntingly, “It was so perfect… You were always stupid.”
Dave answers with a vicious backhand. She’s still smiling. He grabs her by the hair, and she screams in protest, trying to get away. The strange man left the door open, and Dave pushes his wife rudely out the front door, locking the deadlock as soon as she’s completely out. She smiles and starts for the front door. But it’s too late. Dave gets there long before she does, and locks the front door as well. The neighbors are staring now; Dave hardly notices. His anger had more or less erased the reason from his mind. Dave bounds upstairs, two steps at a time. The door to his room is closed. He kicks it open maliciously, splintering the frame. The door flies open, and Dave stalks mindlessly into the bedroom. He takes all of his wife’s clothes from the closet and piles them unscrupulously on the bed. He reaches for the television remote and removes the batteries from the back. He tosses the batteries in the pile, and discards the empty plastic shell.
The bathroom is next-Dave removes all the towels from all the shelves and heaps them atop the growing mountain. Two large cans of shaving cream follow the towels, and a pair of ‘D’ class batteries from his electric shaver follows those. Dave reaches underneath the sink and takes the cleaning products, picking all the ones that say ‘highly flammable’ and leaving the others. He opens these and empties the contents on the mountain. An overwhelming odor of ammonia and drain cleaner fills the room quickly. Dave runs downstairs again to get the final ingredients.
He can see Shelly banging on the foyer window. He flashes a quick middle finger and throws his SUV keys at her. They clatter against the window, then uselessly to the ground. Dave grabs a can of gasoline from the ‘camping cabinet’ and walks to the fireplace to collect a match.
Once the whole can of gasoline has been emptied onto the bed, Dave lights a match. He throws it absently on the pile and all of the flammables erupt in a fiery maelstrom. Flames lick the stuccoed ceiling, burning the sand and concrete away.
Dave closes the bedroom door behind him. He knows he has very little time to escape before the fire department is called. He bolts down the stairs for the last time, grabbing the keys of his wife’s Bentley from the counter. He slips on his best leather jacket, and his fanciest dress shoes.
Dave opens the front door. Four large explosions sound from the upstairs –the batteries, presumes Dave- and the windows on the top floor shatter. Flames come hissing out of the quickly burning room, quickly followed by huge streams of shaving foam. Shelly comes running around the side.
“What the FUCK are you doing?” she yells helplessly. Tears are streaming down her face. Dave kicks her ruthlessly in the stomach, and Shelly falls on her rear.
“What the fuck am I doing?” he roars, “YOU cheated on ME!” and that was all.
The Bentley does not flood. In fact it runs nicely, purring like an overfed kitten. Dave pulls out of the driveway rudely, and zoomed off down the road.
Shelly watches her house burn to pieces, wallowing in self-pity.
He’ll come back, she thinks.
You’ll go back and apologize immediately, scolds the Father.
You’ll do no such thing, argues Erica.
I’ll do no such thing, agrees Dave tearfully.
Last edited by kazbat028; 01-09-2009 at 12:02 PM..