The story goes something like this... ‘The Hope Chest’ was a best selling novel by Arthur Meds, who died in a tragic accident (don't ask!). Many years later the rough draft of that novel was found in a diaper bag in Chicago. That draft contained scenes, characters, and commentary not found in the final published manuscript. This book provides that document in its original form.
I didn't understand it either. Read on!
The chilly August day began like others before it.
That’s a horrible sentence and those first two letters are way too big.
It was Tuesday and singing birds could be heard in the stillness of the moonlit night. After weeks of discussions and arguments, an uneasy calm settled over the city.
The debate was over.
The city council had finished counting the ballots. The citizens of Parson Valley had made their decision. The old lady had toasted her last piece of bread.
Strike the old lady.
The old lady was dead.
That’s not what I meant.
The old lady was not quite dead, but she was gravely ill and emotionally unstable.
In exactly twenty-seven-and-a-half hours, the saloon would be torn down to make way for low-income housing for Parson Valley’s elderly citizens.
The final roadblock was removed when RAFLA, the group responsible for the protests, withdrew their legal challenges. Thomas J. Flingson and his sons were hurriedly making final preparations to reduce the once proud building to a pile of rubble.
It was just as well.
You can say that again.
The saloon had seen better days. Once, it was a place where people could meet. It was a place where they could talk. It was a place where problems seemed remote. It was tucked away down a deserted alley. For the last ten years, it sat empty and neglected behind a locked iron gate. The large red sign that had drawn so much attention was broken and faded. Its distinctive green markings were almost invisible, indecipherable, and (something else beginning with ‘in’).
Few people over the age of forty-four had not heard of the saloon. At one time or another, many lost and frightened souls sought refuge there.
Although the saloon attracted a number of visitors, there were few regulars. Most people found the saloon by accident had a drink or two, and never returned.
There was one exception.
One customer came in at 9:35 on a chilly Wednesday evening in August. He behaved oddly, had a drink, and left. He returned the following Wednesday and acted in much the same way. In the weeks that followed, his visits became routine and predictable. The ritual continued until his death, which was the tragic result of an unfortunate encounter with a jet ski and a squid.
That was an unsubstantiated rumor. According to some accounts, it wasn’t a squid at all; but rather a large amphibious creature believed to have become extinct during the Cretaceous period.
He was an ordinary man, although no one knew much about him. He came and went. His name was unimportant. His hair was of average length. His face could not be picked out of a crowd.
He had two other distinguishing characteristics: he was incapable of spelling the word ‘atrocious’ and he refused to bathe on a regular basis. However, I believe it would be best if those minor character flaws were never mentioned.
His Wednesday night routine never varied.
He entered the saloon, sauntered up to the bar, and ordered a glass of water. As soon as the water arrived, he lifted the glass, looked up, and said, "Forgive me."
After he spat on the floor and insulted a fat person, he drank the water. He returned the glass to the table, then he slammed down a quarter and left.
I did it!
I started the novel I promised myself I would write. It may be dreadful, but the plot of this story is better than the one I used in Following My Lead.
In spite of the fact that I am off to a terrible start, the overall premise might be salvageable, especially if I add scenes containing explicit sex and gratuitous violence.
It works for everything else.
Another Excerpt from
THE HOPE CHEST - BY ARTHUR MEDS
The Exciting New Novel By Charles J. Sloat
An audio excerpt is available. So if you would like to hear what you have been missing click here -