feedback wanted: "for blade runner..."

Here's the story I wrote for the "space bats" contest.

Any constructive comments you care to give it are more than welcome.

If this were mine I would title it "Blade Walker" because the hero trades razor blades for coffee and he walks instead of running.

I would open it like this:

Parisville Road was one long straight bumpy stretch of cracked and broken blacktop with nothing but cornfields and wood lines alternating on either side. The dips and hills made it near impossible to judge its length. It was one of those country roads that seemed to have no end, and the clear blue sky overhead only made it seem that much more expansive. Just standing there before it was intimidating. It felt like I was floating in space more than standing on firm ground.

“Having second thoughts?”

“No,” I said. “Let’s do this.”

I didn’t want to disappoint my young friend. Still, I didn’t like that I couldn’t see an end to this road, this road I’d travelled by car so many times in the past to get to the very same mall that was our destination. This was just different somehow. There was no engine rumbling or protective metal casing surrounding me. I was realizing that, in all my years, this was the first time I was actually seeing this road. All the other times, I was zooming through in my truck. Being on this same road—on foot—forced me to be present in the moment.

All these years, and it was hitting me for the first time. The journey begins with a single step. I wanted to see Blade Runner. And maybe get some decent coffee.

* * *

Seven o’clock in the morning comes early. So the saying went, though it no longer seemed to apply to me or anyone I knew. Nobody lived by the clock anymore. If you didn't get up at dawn to milk the cow when it was your turn, and the cow got mastitis through your neglect, you had plenty of people to remind you the next time--the hard way. Plenty of roommates these days, all vocal. Generally, our early risers fed the chickens but lazy old men like me get up when we please and folks let us.

We kept the old windup clock on the living room wall just for swank, I guess. It was a link to the past that still worked and so we prized it for that reason. Same reason an old relic like me was still around: I still worked.

Since it was bright and early, a beautiful early October morning, I decided to celebrate the moment with a cup of dandelion root “coffee.” I learned awhile back that every part of the dandelion is edible, a fact that served me well over the years. A coffee substitute could be made by grinding up dandelion roots.

I seemed to be the only one stirring about. I was pretty sure no one would be too thrilled with me if I used the gas stove to boil water for nothing more than a morning beverage for myself and no one else, so I got that thought out of my head. Instead, I went to the back porch, threw a few twigs in the rocket stove, and lit it. Thanks to the past couple of rainy days, there was plenty of water stored up, so I was fine there. I filled the kettle about a quarter of the way full and, in a short time, I had hot water for my “coffee.”

Truth? Dandelion root made a poor substitute for the real thing. Chicory? Nah. All substitutes had been nothing more than a reminder to me that there really were no substitutes. I enjoyed everything about my morning cup back in the day: grinding the beans, figuring just the right amount to put in the coffeemaker, how much water to add. It was more an art than a science, and one hundred percent ritual.

But anyway, I had the supposed next best thing. It was better than nothing. I wasn’t about to let truth or facts ruin the beautiful sunrise I set out to enjoy in the first place. I walked out to the front porch and smiled through the first sip. Bitter. No caffeine jolt. I was still a caffeine fiend. Oh well, somehow it always seemed worth trying, or so I liked to kid myself. I still had the warmth of the cup in my hands.

Grammar and typo correx

Years ago, when I saw the writing on the wall, I made the decision to join a church and not because I felt that the answer lied in Jesus.

"lay in Jesus" is past tense, 'lies in Jesus" is present tense. Both are kind of awkward; I would rephrase to say "not because Jesus was the answer."

We walked in silence and took in the scenery. There were noises here and there, and we could here water running from the creek that ran through the woods off to our right.

Hear water

"Not really.” She looked us over and her brow curled in thought. Now that I was facing her, I could see that--as old and petite as she was--she exuded a sturdiness that didn’t need me or anyone else to fetch that cat. Curled in her arms, the cat still had its eyes on me.

I would replace one of these 'curled's with 'contracted' (for the brow) or 'cradled' (for the cat)

Thomas and me talked basketball.

Thomas and I -- otherwise you are saying "Me talked basketball'--which sounds unEnglish.

"Working," he replied. , and by "working" he meant summers in the fields and whatever short-term labor he could manage: a couple of days here, a week or two there.

Save words by substituting "odd jobs"for underlined text.

David Trammel's picture

I'll try and give it a read this afternoon and post any thoughts I have.

BTW, have you checked out the new "Post Peak Magazine"?

If you'd like to have this story considered for publication, send them an email. I beleive they want to publish their first issue in September.