Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Not that I'm anal...

But I went back through what I'd written, yesterday, on BC-3 and polished it up. Found a couple inconsistencies and then shifted 6 paragraphs from the end of one chapter to the end of another and they work a LOT better, now.

Here's a bit more of the story -- where Eric is visiting Bobby's mother.

Bobby’s room had walls painted black with white trim and colorful posters tacked to them -- pictures of a gorgeous model from the “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition” and football teams colliding and the perfect shot of a Phillies batter making a hit -- and they made the place seem even smaller than it was. The narrow bunk beds and two chests of drawers and shelf of trophies along a shelf on one wall only added to the sense of being tight and crowded. I wondered at the fact that Bobby could fit in here by himself, let alone with what appeared to be one of his brothers.

I noticed a single window to my right, looking out over the back yard, framed by more of the twisting vines covered with elegant green leaves and bunches of as-yet unripe grapes. A student’s desk was jammed against the lower sill, its top clean and tidy except for a runner off the vine lying gentle on the fake wood. This desk wasn’t even good enough to be from Ikea, and seeing it drove ice into my heart, because for an instant I could just picture a healthy kid sitting in the cheap swivel seat and gazing out that window at what had to be a brilliant future, once upon a time, and I think I actually gasped. I wandered to it, my eyes locked on the vine, the vague sun highlighting one side of the tender leaves and casting a soft shadow across cheap wood that had taken on a graceful elegance. I instantly thought, There are ghosts in this room, and their presence makes all of it so beautiful.

“That’s Bobby’s window.” I jolted around. I’d forgotten Mrs. Carapisi was behind me. “He’d sit at his desk, his chin restin’ on his hands, an’ just watch the sun go down. He really loved sunsets.”

“I know,” I said, absently.


“I-I-I don’t know...I...I sounded right.”

She looked at me, her eyes holding back the pain she so obviously felt. “Why’re you really here? And don’t give me nonsense about how awful people were to Bobby. Or that you want to help me. Nothing that smells like pity. I got too much of it since...” Her voice trailed off and she looked away.

I stood there for a minute, not one thought in my head, then I whispered, “I told you...I did something awful,” my voice still echoing in that empty silent room. “I never thought I was a bad person...I mean, I did things, sometimes, but I always had my reasons and they made sense and...and then came all of this. It blew everything apart. I-I-I’ve tried to find reasons -- excuses -- but they all fall apart, too, and all I’m left with is-is-is what I did. And no decent human being does that -- what I did -- to somebody else.”

“So what do you think you are?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. I just know I...I was wrong. What I did was wrong.”

“Then why did you do it!?” Her voice cut through me like a knife. “Why’d you get that story printed? Bobby might have made it if that hadn’t happened.”

Man, that tore the heart out of me. “I-I-I wanted people to believe me. Nobody believed me.”

“And you didn’t care who you hurt to make that happen?”

I shook my head. “I didn’t even think about it. About what it’d mean to -- to the other guy. That’s what makes me rotten.” And I was back to shaking and remembering every foul thing I’d said to myself and I was hating myself, again.

She must have seen it because she sighed and came into the room. “So what you want? Pity? Absolution for your sins? I kiss you and send you on your way and everything’s fine, again?”

“No. I -- I just want to go back -- and undo it -- and make it all different.”

“You can’t.”

“I can try. I’m thinking -- maybe I-I-I’ll start a blog. Fire back as those bastards who’re lying about him. Post the truth.” That was the first time I’d actually thought of an action to take.

Mrs. Carapisi frowned at me. “What’s that?”

“That-that-that Bobby didn’t invite what happened -- .”

“No, what’s a blog?”

“Huh?” Oh. Of course. I hadn’t noticed a computer in the house, even in Bobby’s room. I’d already figured she was like Gramma in Minnesota. Prefers writing letters on paper and going to bookstores to buy books to read instead of downloading them. “Uh -- it’s a series of writings online -- uh, on a computer.”

“The internet. Right. Seems like a lot a stuff about nothin’.”

“Depends on how you-you approach it.”

“Will people pay attention?”

Her words slammed into my chest. I slumped down to rest against the cheap little desk. Felt it creak. Felt the breath escape me. The hope. “Probably not. There’s thousands of blogs, and only a few get read, really. Stupid thing to think.”

“Eric,” she said, her voice finally back to being gentle and warm, “you know you’re the only person who’s expressed any guilt over Bobby? None of the kids have. My husband hasn’t. And don’t get me started on those -- those ‘people’ out there who shouted their filth at him. Who used words I’d never let come out of me. You’re the only one ashamed of what happened.”

“Oh, that’s not right. That’s not right.”

“No, it’s not. Come on.” She took my arm and guided me back to the door. “I’m gonna make some tea. You want a cup?” I nodded. She pulled the door halfway closed behind us then stopped and looked back inside. I waited. “This room -- it’s too much like a shrine. I’m paintin’ the walls, tomorrow.”

“You sure that -- ?”

She stopped me cold with her look. “This is my home. He was my son. I won’t let this room replace him in my heart. I’ve seen that happen too many times.”

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