Well, I’ve finished another novella. This one is called The Writing on the Wall
. It’s been awhile since I offered you fine folks a snippet of my writing, so I figured the best way to celebrate the story’s completion is to post the first scene of the first chapter. So, without further ado…Chapter 1
Beezle smiled at the man in the denim jacket who sat next to him at the bar. His short cropped, red, hair and freckles gave him a youthful look that not even his day old stubble could properly subdue. “You can learn a lot from the writing on a shithouse wall.”
The man lowered his pint slowly, casting a sidelong glance to his left. “Is that a fact?”
Beezle shifted uneasily under the weight of his stare. He turned away, taking in the sight of room around him. Arnie’s Bar & Grill had been a venue for tall pints and short tempers in Tulsa since the end of prohibition. The low lights did nothing to hide the decay of the tiny establishment. Yellowed pictures adorned the walls, barely covering spider web cracks in the plaster. Strands of cotton danced playfully from the seams of most of the stools. Even the mahogany of the bar gave proud testament to its decades of service with a clouded finish. He took a deep breath letting the smell of cigarette smoke and cheap whiskey fill his nostrils.
“Think about it. Have you ever taken the time to actually read any of it?” Beezle finally let his gaze fall on his near empty glass. He studied his reflection on the side of it, admiring the way the amber beer made his brown eyes look black.
“Would this be any shithouse wall or just the one here?” The man asked, one brow raised.
The buzz of neon lights barely rose above the murmurs of the other patrons. Beezle’s strange statement caught the attention of everyone within earshot.
“Let’s take this one for example.” He nodded toward the back of the bar, causing his dark curls to dance with the sudden movement. “Some of life’s most basic questions find their answers scribbled there: Who’s hot, who’s not, who’s easy, who’s the undeniable prick who ran off with my favorite girl?”
Beezle motioned for the bartender. “Can I get another round of Guinness over here?”
“Sure thing, Beezle,” he answered congenially, slinging the damp towel he was holding over his shoulder.
“Beezle? What the hell kind of name is that?” Freckles asked, swiveling in his chair to face him.
“It’s a nickname. When I was young, had a lot of trouble with my name, so--”
“Which is?” the man interrupted.
“Bezeltunicci.” He gave the bartender a nod as he placed the fresh pints in front of them.
“Gotcha.” He couldn’t help but laugh. “Beezle it is. Mine’s Dennis, by the way. Dennis O’Brien”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Beezle stuck out his hand.
“Thanks for the beer.” Dennis shook it firmly.
“Ah, but nothing in life is free.” Beezle noticed the deep contrast between the deep gold of his hand and the pale complexion of his new friend.
“What do you mean?” Dennis yanked away from his grip hastily.
“Relax, friend.” He held up his hands in surrender. “I just meant that it will cost you your ear.”
“Well, I guess that’s quite a bit cheaper than an arm and a leg.” Dennis took a long draw from his glass.
“Who can put such a price on information? I ask only that you hear me with an open mind.” Beezle traced a lazy line in the head of his beer and sucked the foam from his finger.
“Since you put it that way, enlighten me.” Dennis motioned for him to continue.
“Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride all vie for space on those hallowed walls we were just discussing. Man’s greatest hits are etched out in vivid detail with a few hasty slashes of a pen.”
“I don’t know if ‘for a good time call Tracy’ constitutes one of Man’s greatest hits.” “Why not? It captures several primal elements. How was the message intended? Is it truthful? Was it written out of lust, envy or even wrath? Maybe not the words, but the emotions behind them are very much a testament to the very nature of man.” Beezle pounded his chest for emphasis.
“Huh.” Dennis’ eyes widened in surprise. “I think I may need to slow down on the drinking. That actually made way more sense than it should’ve.”
“It seems to me, there’s something about the confined space between the stalls that drives many a man to lay bare his pain or pleasure for all the world to see. Is it from some latent sense of vulnerability from having your pants around your ankles?” Beezle used the sleeve of T-shirt to wipe foam from his upper lip.
“I guess if one is going to feel exposed anyway, why not expose it all?”
“Well said.” Beezle nodded appreciatively. “The communal shithouse has become a form of confessional. The public stall is the new temple, consecrated with the continuous bombardment of stench and sin.”
“What the hell have you been smoking?”
“The toilet is a shrine,” Beezle continued, ignoring the question. “A place to send up offerings to the Gods, be they in the form of art, literature, a sigh of relief or something infinitely more tangible.”
“I guess it doesn’t matter where you pray.” Dennis paused to chug the rest of his pint. “When was the last time you heard of a prayer being answered anyway?”
Beezle leaned in conspiratorially. “What if the new Gods had no intention of turning a deaf ear to our pleas?”
“You really think some random graffiti and a fouled toilet are the beginning of a new religion?” Dennis slapped his knee as he laughed.
“Stranger things have happened.” Beezle shrugged.
“I doubt that. In any event, I wouldn’t want to be there for the baptisms.” Dennis wore a look of pure disgust.
“Yeah, I’m sure they would be interesting to say the least,” Beezle agreed before finishing off his pint.
“Ok, bud.” Dennis pushed his stool away from the bar. “This is getting way too weird, even for me. Thanks for the beer… and the lesson, but I’ve gotta go.”
“But the night is still young.” Beezle pointed to the clock above the bar. “Why don’t you stay a while longer? I haven’t even made it to the good stuff yet.”
Dennis wasn’t sure whether it was the beer or the smile that spread across Beezle’s face, but his legs became increasingly unstable.
“No, I need to get home, but first I…” He paused to steady himself, placing one hand on the stool and the other on the bar for support. “Need to go pray.”
“Amen to that, brother.” Beezle rose to leave. “Catch you on the flip side.”
Labels: Book News, The Writing on the Wall, writing