Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Western in 30 Working Days -- Ten (late report)

Weekends for a working writer in Japan are not days off. Typically, a client will call for a meeting late on Friday and ask for the work to be done by Monday morning, first thing. It's expected and commonly demanded. That's how I spent my weekend.

Stryker's Bounty, in the meantime, passed it's tenth working day--a day spent with Molly Miller and the Dents, Finn Dent in particular.


White men figured there were only two ways to get through or around the Chiricahuas—go south through Apache Pass, or go north through the foothills of Dos Cabezas. Anyone who wanted to go up into the Chiricahuas from the west had to go through Hell’s Gate and up Hell’s Trail.

A bit of Hell Hole Trail as it is today
As usual, Lester Dent headed the Dent column. That’s what he called it, the Dent column. He grinned inside, but outside, he was a stern patriarch, the guiding light to a coming generation of Dent sons. Finn and Lee Roy showed promise, although they needed upbraiding of a time. And Wee Willy. T’would never do to send him off by himself. He was good at hefting and carrying around camp or on a ranch or somewhere, but not quick enough in the head to be sent off by himself.

And the woman, Molly. Might have to change her name. Molly. She had her good points. Not many women able to cook good grub on an open fire. Molly could and Molly did. Molly did a lot of things. True, the boys used her a lot, but young men were bound to want to hump. Couldn’t let them pound on her too much. She needed to be able to do for the Dents and she couldn’t do that all bruised and broken. Yeah. Humping and hitting had to be separated. For sure.

It's not unusual in my books to have chapters or scenes in third-person POV of perps or other people who have roles to play in the story. For example. In Return to Silver Creek, protagonist Garet Havelock's wife Laura comes up missing. She's been brutally raped. (OK, so I'm hard on women) A friend gives her shelter. So for many chapters of the book, the beginning is in Laura's 3rd person POV, and the remainder is in Garet's 3rd person POV. Here's a sample. 

Mexican Hacienda, but maybe like the Pilar's
Laura Havelock opened her eyes to dim surroundings. A fragrance of old leather and juniper smoke filled the air. She felt it was morning, though the room was dark.
She had not left the room since Rita Pilar and Ramon Javez, the Pilar ranch segundo, brought her to the hacienda. Her bruised ribs didn’t hurt as much, and scabs had formed on the two vertical slits beneath her eyes. They looked like dark purple tears. Her young body was recovering quickly from the brutal attack. Her body was healing, but her heart remained deeply scarred.
Laura knew no man before her husband and now she had been violated in every way imaginable – brutalized, heart, body, and soul.
That man didn’t want a woman. He wanted to hurt. To wound me, to humiliate me, to make me feel like dirt fit only to be trod upon.
A light tap sounded on the oak door.
“Yes.” Laura forced herself to get up and remove the bar.
Rita Pilar entered with a platter of bacon, eggs, fresh salsa, and flour tortillas. “We have no sourdough biscuits, mi amiga,” she said. “Tortillas will have to do.” Rita smiled. “I did bring the crock of sourdough starter from your rancho, however. Later, perhaps, you can show me how it works.”
“Thank you, Rita. You and yours have been so kind. You saved my life, you know. Now you want me to show you how to make sourdough bread. And you already have such delicious tortillas.”
Rita smiled again. “My people came from Spain many generations ago, and from Mexico to Arizona, though we called it Nuevo Mexico then. We are also Americanos, you see. And I think we should learn everything we can about you Anglos.”
For the first time in days, Laura Havelock laughed. “Good thing my father is not here to hear you call me an Anglo,” she said. She switched to an Irish brogue, imitating her father. “Sure and it’s Irish Celts we are and we hail from Erin, the emerald isle, that we do.” 
Rita laughed with delight.
“Come, sit at the table, Laura. Let’s eat. Here.” The Mexican woman handed Laura a blouse and skirt. “You’re bigger than I am,” she said, “but Paloma is a wizard with her needle. Try these on. I wager they fit.”
“Thank you. You are a friend.” Laura used the tips of her little fingers to brush the tears away from the corners of her eyes. But it was no use. They overflowed anyway, and silently streamed down her face. She turned away from Rita, but she caught Laura’s arm and turned her back.
“Let the tears come, my friend. Let them come. When you try to hold them back, the hole in your heart just gets bigger. Let them come. So the inner wounds can heal,” she said.
“Oh, Rita.” Laura sobbed. “You bring me to your home. You clean me up and give me clothes to wear. But inside I’m so dirty. So dirty. So awfully dirty.”
Rita put her arms around Laura, pulled her close, and held her as she wept.

Not Alamo, as that town no longer exists,
but Cascabel, a town not far away from Alamo

Part way through the chapter, I make a scene change to look in on the oldest Dent son, Finn. He's been sent to Alamo for supplies to take them through Hell's Gate and Hell's Trail.



“Howdy, stranger.” The man behind the bar wore a big smile, a walrus moustache, and mutton chop sideburns that extended up the sides of his face until they disappeared into his bald pate, just above his ears. “What’ll ya have? I’m Todd. First one’s on Charley Wainwright, I might add.”

“Whiskey’d be good,” Finn said. “Really good shot of whiskey.”

“Coming up.” Todd reached for a long-necked bottle with no label and poured a generous three fingers of amber liquid into a slightly foggy glass. “Like I said, the first one’s on ol’ Charley Wainwright.” Todd put the glass on the plank bar right in front of Finn.

Saliva filled Finn’s mouth at the thought of drinking the hefty shot of whiskey sitting right there before him. Free for the drinking, too. He took the glass in his strong untrembling grasp and knocked it back.

Good. Lord. Good.

The whiskey went down in three swallows, but the sledgehammer of fire hit all at once.

Then the burning gradually settled down to stoked furnace level. Finn wiled his watering eyes. “Whew. Prime. By the almighty, prime. How much you getting for a shot of that fine whiskey?”


Word count: 17,810

3 comments:

  1. A third of the way - well on target!

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  2. Hit a snag today. Been corresponding with Keith to get it fixed. Not writer's block, but research block. Sometimes the story takes you places you didn't plan on, so you can't know everything. Now I know. Now I can push ahead. (up to neck in commercial work, but that's OK.)

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