Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Novel, 4th Section

Young Amelia’s on a Greyhound. Looking out the window and seeing nothing.
The bus gets emptier and emptier and it passes through manicured Northern Massachusetts…

Through smoky industrial founding father type towns…

Through others dank, lifelife, unidentified by droopy signs…

Through coastal areas helmed in by fog…

Through Narragansett, Rhode Island…

And finally…Amelia’s hometown, Millerstown.

The Millerstown of fifteen years past is a healthy working class, fishing mill community. Amelia drags her hand me down suitcase off the bus. The Millerstown CafĂ© and Sundries store demands a once over. Hmmm. A “Closed” sign is in the window.

She looks towards the docks. A few catch-the-dawn fisherman stand planted to the wood railing, their lines adrift in the waves 30 feet below. Some look as if they’d like to be with their bait six feet under. She starts to trudge down a lane, past five newly-planted elm trees. At the end sits a small split-level, Cape Cod style home.

Despite the newly-birthed trees, the home feels like death has taken up residence.

“Hey, it’s sis!”

The entrance of her brother, Cleveland, sweeps Amelia back from her teens, back to the present. The 17-year-old swings into the room. He’s slim, energetic, good-looking in a casual, unconscious way. Even in the plaid robe and bare feet he now sports, he’s teenage hip.

They hug. This time, it’s genuine on both sides.

“Cleveland, your feet’ll get cold,” interrupts Ruby, jealous of their friendship.

Cleveland waves off the comment. Turns back to Amelia.

“Shoulda’ known you’d show up? Always doing the right thing?”

Cleveland has a habit of ending every sentence like it’s a question. It sends Amelia into a playful mode.

“You look good. Must have some young hussy looking out for you,” she teases.

“Always, always, When’d you get here?” asks Cleveland.

“I planned for midnight. Just a lot of delays. Fog. Finally flew into Providence around four this morning.”

Ruby’s less than not interested. “I got to get to the store. You want anything to eat, Cleveland? I can make something before I leave.”

“You can make something for me,” says Amelia.

“You’re a grown woman. You can take care of yourself.”

It was always like this with Ruby. Not only didn’t she understand affection. Not only would she never be able to give it, accept it or fake it in this lifetime or the next. But, the site of it between others seemed like such a threat to the essential nature of her being, that she went out of her way to try to stifle affection in others.
h wait, she did seem to warm to it in her “stories”, the ones that repeat forever on TVLand. Maybe she accepted what she knew she could never control. Or perhaps because that was the past. That was then. This is too much of now.

Amelia opens the top of Cleveland’s robe a smidge. Picks at the hair on his chest.

“As if this ain’t grown man hair growing up under here,” retorts Amelia. And to herself. “Not again. I’m going to enjoy seeing my baby brother. Not even my mom’s gonna kill this moment.”

Cleveland starts picking at the hair on her head. Soon, they’re both slap-boxing playfully.

“Don’t rough house in my kitchen,” admonishes Ruby. Cleveland gives in with a wry smile and a gesture of hopelessness. Hopelessness? Another house characteristic.

“Ok, it’s starting,” says Cleveland. “Going to get dressed?”

“I’ll be here, least till Daddy’s funeral,” says Amelia.

That casts Cleveland into a kind of coma-recovery mode. For her brother, that happened all too frequently, she was soon to discovery. His eyes take on a far away aura. And pretty soon, it’s like only his body is in the room. Spirit? Essence?

A search through the entire Thomas Brothers wouldn’t fine them.

Usually when this happened, those around him would start to fidget in discomfort.

Gradually, they’d drift off one by one, concerned that they would think ill of him, but not finding any other choice. What they didn’t know was that when Cleveland emerged from these surprise attacks, he had no idea where he was or who he was talking to.

Cleveland never questioned the source of location of his reverie.
All he knew was that even though the thought of his father might have initiated these episodes, his father was not in them. As far as Cleveland knew. For not only did he have no memory of those he spoke to before the attack. He had no memory of what happened during those attacks.

But, except for the faint inhibition within the pit of his stomach, Cleveland suffered no ill effects. And after watching his dad shrivel up and die after two years, Cleveland felt a slight discomfort was nothing.

No one knew what had been wrong with Henry, their father. At least not until his death. The symptons seemed similar to Alzheimer’s. And because that was untreatable, no one looked any further.

Oh yes, doctors recommended cat scans. But, Henry came from a generation in which men didn’t go to hospitals unless they had bullet wounds or their wives were having babies. And maybe not even then. So, a cat scan was not an option. As for Ruby, she came from a generation in which you might undermind and hate your husband, but you certainly didn’t second guess them.

It took dying to finally figure out what had happened to Henry. Being the good husband. Being the good provider. Being the good dad. He died from a disease that a dead beat dad would never have caught.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

New Novel, 3rd Section

A time so far away in time, yet always on the surface of Amelia’s memory.

She was only 13 and trying hard. Trying hard to fit in at a girl’s New England private school that didn’t usually let in people like her, people from mill fishing towns. Already she stood out. Here she was staying at the school through the Thanksgiving holiday because she couldn’t afford to go home. Sure there were a number of other girls doing the same. But, not because they didn’t have the money. Hell, there was more than enough money in the lives of these young women.

The family of Laurel Miranda had so much money that when she was sent from 90210 to this Western Massachusetts prep school, her parents transported her horses with her. Laurel’s father was a power player in the telecommunications world. Shipping and stabling a few horses for his daughter’s pleasure was nothing. But, actually seeing her and spending time with her over the holidays, now that was a bit much to ask.

So, when Laurel came towards Amelia on the lacrosse field…yes, lacrosse…Amelia knew she shouldn’t underestimate her. Laurel’s chance to release her frustration could mean a point in her favor, and against that of Amelia’s team.

Ouch!!! ABM!!! These bodies slam together. Sticks cross like lances.

Ten girls, 13 to 15 years of age, mud-stained uniforms, scowls to outmatch Wayne Gretsky.

“Ger her! Don’t let Amelia get inside!” shouts one teenager.

“I’m trying!,” huffs a second.

A third opponent, running and breathing hard, gasps out “Catch her. She’s just a sophomore.”

The amused coach, Ms. Burns, pipes in from off-field. “Girls, remember. Northfield Academy was founded on religion, not homicide.”

The 13-year-old Amelia makes a sudden break, pigtails flying. Or so she thinks. Oomph!! Laurel, Amelia’s roommate, plows Amelia into the ground. Laurel smiles her regrets…and sweeps the ball away.

Amelia fall to the ground. Clutches her stomach. Sudden agony. She looks surprised. The impact wasn’t that bad.
Suddenly, her vision clouds. The surrounding sounds disintegrate to a mesh of whispers. She feels something malevolent lurking. She strains to see. And still, a shrouded world. Oddly, she feels no fear. Just an overwhelming sadness.
A teammates’ admonishment brings her back.

“Amelia, get up!!!”

Clarity returns. Its as if time passed for her and no one else. She nervously laughs it off and charges after Laurel.

“Ok, Roomie, I’m warning you. I’m gonna’ sweep your feet,” laughs Amelia. They’re the best of friends.

"You can’t do that!!! Against the rules,” says Laurel indignantly.

“That’s why I’m telling you first. Perpetuating, girl,” says Amelia as she makes her move, trying to trip up Laurel. Laurel dodges the first attempt. Not the second. No such luck.


Laurel’s a lame duck in the mud. Amelia races back to her goal as her teammates hold off opposing forces. Amelia dashes back to assist Laurel. Laurel sits laughing in the mud. Amelia pulls her up. Laurel surrepticiously drops some mud down Amelia’s back and givers her a friendly pat on the back. Amelia jumps.

“Aaah!!!” she cries.

Ms Burns looks up. “Is something wrong, girls?”

“Nothing. Nothing at all,” says Amelia with a bright, false smile. “Watch your back, roomie.”

But, it’s Amelia who’s watching her back, wondering if her imagination was playing tricks. Or was it something or someone else?

By the evening, Amelia has passed off the incident as something from her imagination. Nothing to interfare with the fun of making hot cross buns with the other girls.

“Staying at school for Thanksgiving was the best decision,” laughs Laurel.

”Me too,” says Amelia. “Finally learning to cook.” The other girls look at her strange. “You don’t cook at home,” says one.

Amelia tells the truth without thinking. “Uh uh. My mom will cook turkey her way, which I love. But, if I ask her how to cook something, my daddy puts in his two cents. Then, they start fighting. And I never get to cook. Last Thanksgiving, my parents got so mad, dad threw the turkey in the dumpster.”

She looks up to see faces more shocked than she’d expected. Not at her story, but at her unusual expressiveness. She plays it off.

“Boy, that was one fowl Thanksgiving,” says Amelia. The other girls still aren’t sure how to react. Amelia flashes her most convincing smile. “A joke, girls. Come on.”

The other girls chill. But, Laurel’s concerned look says she knows otherwise.

“What time is it?” asks Amelia.

“Why?” asks Laurel.

“Girl, would you just tell me the time fore I give you five across the eyes,” laughs Amelia.

Laurel adapts a long-suffering “how long oh Lord” look.”

“About eight-thirty,’ says Laurel.

“I gotta call home before it gets too late,” says Amelia.

Amelia walks through the old-mansion-turned down house. Through the windows she psses…spacious grounds and turn of the century mansions. Tall, Methuselah trees. And in the distance, the Connecticut River, and the dim lights of 18th Century road lanterns. If any setting could bespeak tradition, wealth and family values, Northfield Academy for Girls would be it.

Taking two steps at a time, she jaunts up to the second floor hallway payphone. It was a vintage antique payphone. All mahogany with stained glass windows. Amelia felt positively elegant whenever she used it even though waiting for the heavy ringed dial to wind back after each number took a patience users of 90s technology were unaccustomed.

To Amelia, the sound engendered a contentedness within her. Rather it always did in the past. Not tonight.

She dials. The squeaker voice of an operator pierces her ear.

“Yes,” says Amelia. “This is a collect call from Amelia Chatman.”

She waits, blowing air on the window, drawing faces in it. Muffled voices drift over the line.

“Mom? Daddy?” Amelia’s tentative, wondering why someone would pick up the phone and not speak. Finally her mother breaks through in chilly tones.

“Amelia, is that you?”

“Mom, What’s wrong?”

“Who called you? Who told you to call” She could almost see her mother’s glaring eyes sweeping the room for a culprit.
“I told you not to call her. She doesn’t need to come home.”

Now, Amelia is freaking. The weirdness of the lacrosse field comes back to her. Is this what that meant? Did she ignore the warning that might have prepared her for this.

“Mom nobody called me. What’s wrong?”

Only silence. Amelia hears someone crying in the background. The crying generates an anxiety and fear in Amelia. Why doesn’t her mother simply tell her, she asks. Whenever it comes to Ruby, nothing was easy.

“Mom!!! Where’s daddy? I want to talk to Daddy,” insists Amelia. “I want to talk to daddy.”

But her mother had pulled rank and had had enough.

“Your brother’s dead,” Ruby says flatly. “The funeral’s tomorrow. But, you don’t have to come. We can…”

Ruby’s voice fades. Amelia stands in shock. The world, her world, fled.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Novel, 2nd Section

A hallway light flips on.

Amelia’s mother, Ruby Chatman, 50s, comes down the paisley carpeted stairs. He eyes are clear and unclouded for one her age. She pauses mid-level, hesitating, both wondering and worrying at who’d be calling so early.

But, then she surges forward, as if “what will be will be.” Besides, she’s preparing to go to work, herself.

Black pleated skirt stretches below Ruby’s calves. She rushes to button a high-collared floral blouse, step into black pumps sitting at the foot of the stairs, and strains to see through the curtained door window, all at the same time.

Ruby presents a matronly figure from her opaque panty-hose with reinforced toes, to her legs thickened by time and matted varicose veins, to the tight French twist imprisoning every strand of hair.

But, when she walks, her steps are light, her movements frenetic.

Ruby is an inherent contradiction, sometimes even to herself.

She pulls back a corner of the curtain just as Amelia finally negotiates the keys. Ruby jumps as Amelia, unknowingly, almost hits her with the full force of the door.
“Mom!!! I didn’t see you,” exclaims Amelia.

Amelia tries to keep the family Irish Setter, Kelly, from bounding outside. Finally, Ruby intercedes.

“Kelly!!! Go!!!!” says Ruby “In the kitchen.”

Ruby’s Tone? Harsh and cold as a Siberian winter. Kelly quickly obeys. Ruby’s a remote, recalcitrant woman with a visage that shows no hint of kindness.
Amelia hugs Ruby. Ruby half hugs, half pats Amelia on the back the way people never comfortable being warm do. Amelia’s expression says she’s used to it.

“Oh!!! I didn’t know you were coming so soon. Your brother wouldn’t come get you.” Says Ruby impatiently.

Ruby studiously ignores the tone. She’s determined to ignore any and all irritating statements from her mom, knowing that sometimes the fact that they came from her mother and not someone else was sufficient cause for it to be annoying.

“I didn’t want to bother him.” Says Amelia. “Besides, the way he drives, all up on people’s fenders. I’da been in some ditch.”

Ruby leads the way into the kitchen. Everything’s dour yellow. The walls. Stove. Fridge. Yellow. Dour. Ruby tries to lighten the room with a breezy tone.
“You painted again,” says Amelia.

“Just a few weeks ago. It rained. It leaked.”

Ruby’s the exact opposite of Amelia when it comes to words. Ruby’s inexpressive, uncommunicative. Amelia’s a speed-talker. Words, like swarms of bees, surround her.
“Mom, I keep telling you. You should get the leaks fixed so you don’t have to keep painting all the time.”

Amelia puts some water in a small pot on the stove to boil. She sits at the table. She’d really like a drink. But that would have to wait for later and certainly at a time when Ruby was absent. Despite the new millennium, Ruby was still back in the 60s when it came to women drinking.

Not that women didn’t drink back then. But, Ruby didn’t run in those circles. In fact, as far as Amelia could tell, her mother never ran in any circles that did anything fun. She just got married and had children, like most women who grew into their twenties in the 50s.

Ruby responds with irritation. It seemed the two had the same effect on each other.
“You don’t talk to me about painting my walls, I won’t say nothing about your hair.”
Ruby puts the water into a larger pot.

“That pot doesn’t cook water fast,” says Ruby.

“I’m not going anywhere fast,” Amelia retorts.

“I’m on the way to work,” says Ruby, “I don’t have time to make you breakfast.”
Ruby takes the suitcase from the corner that Amelia put it in and moves it closer to the door entrance. Her movements are nervous, frenetic, almost the opposite of Amelia’s.

Oddly enough, Ruby shys away from touching the hat that Amelia left near the suitcase.

Throughout her life, Ruby unconsciously redoes what others do, as if she’s fixing their actions.

Amelia looks at the plastic covering the table. She looks down the hall into the living room. Plastic covers the furniture there.

“Mom, why are you always covering stuff with plastic,” asks Amelia.

“Oh, Amelia, you know I like to keep my furniture nice,” says Ruby. Don’t start trying to change things.”

“I just always wondered. That plastic always sticks to my legs,” says Amelia.

“Not if you wore stockings like proper girls do. You girls never even wore girdles,” says Ruby.

Amelia smiles at the old-fashioned notion. Ruby takes it as an insult.

“You didn’t have to come home,” says Ruby.

A conversation of an echo…15 years ago.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Novel, First Section just finished

A Novel
By Skye Knight

“Doors open for a reason, Miss”

The bus driver honked for emphasis. Not that Amelia Chatman needed the second reminder. She knew she was home. She just didn’t want to be there.

Sure, she had come of her own volition, with no prompting from or warning to anyone. In fact, no one even knew Amelia was arriving. After all, it was just yesterday that she had asked for an impromptu two-week vacation from her editor, crossed the country red-eyed on the red-eye, and scooted on the first morning bus for an hour-long ride past towns and villages still shockingly burned into her memory.

And through all her speedy preparations and the dusk to dawn flight, she knew she didn’t want to be home. Nothing good ever came of it before.

Amelia lugs her suitcase down the bus steps with a reminder to herself “I’m not here for something good.”

A sideways look from the bus driver lets her know that she actually verbalized the thought.

The bus door closes with the finality of a prison gate. It lurches away, its tires flipping bits of pebbles back at Amelia, almost as if the bus were spitting a goodbye.

When the dusk settles, it reveals Amelia to be a 28-year-old, eye-catching blend of West Coast funk and East Coast punk. She wears jean, topped off with a tie fitted top, flashing jacket and close-cropped, dyed copper hair with honey blond streaks. Everything about her shouts “Now!!!” Well, except for one thing. The 50s men’s Cavanaugh hat.

“Anywhere I hang my hat is home.” So sang Cleo Laine to the accompaniment of John Dankworth. So sings Amelia in a low melodic strain.

Amelia looks around. In many ways, the town has changed…and in most ways he hadn’t.
The fish business that once made its residents proud as well as prosperous? Dried up. The mill business? Taken elsewhere.

Millertown still had its charm, thanks to residents who refuse to let appearances reflect their vanishing bank accounts. In fact, the town still had its schools, banks, all the services one expects of a stable community.

But, the frayed around the edges taint gave away the fact that a healthy economy is not of the things Millerstown sports.

In other words, this is a town still loved by many, increasingly ignored by most. Betwixt boom and bedroom. A coastal community dying of thirst.

Amelia starts walking down a lane. He face reflects the resolution of a sidelined player unwillingly stuck on the permanently disabled list.

She passes a white oak tree. Her initials still engraved after all these years.
Suddenly a wolf whistle cuts the air. Amelia turns towards the sound. It’s one of several construction workers laying ground for a seedier version on 7-11, if such a thing exists. His admiring look doesn’t sway.

Amelia gives him the finger. Then pauses to light a cigarette. And continues walking the Cape Cod styled home at the end of the lane. Continues walking to death’s door.

She doesn’t notice the driver inside the dark gray sedan, a driver who’s been watching her since the moment she stepped off the bus.

Why should she have? Too busy talking to herself. Like now. “Get a grip, Amelia.”

Yeah, right. Like such an admonishment had ever worked any of the other times she had returned home and felt the same trepidation now staining her body with each step. Some people would say, you get what you wish for. Was that why within a day of each of her prior visits, something had happened that drove her to get a hasty return ticket and return to the comfortable superficial embrace of Hell-A.

But, here she was, pre-dawn and unprepared. The keys jangled in her hands as she fumbled at the carved oak entrance to the home where Amelia was born.

1. To be continued...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Possibly Go Wrong: Novel

Possibly Go Wrong: Novel


I will be posting chapters and/or sections from a novel that I am writing as I write it. I'm also working on a new spec script, but I won't bug all of you by posting that. Just laying low and writing a lot now because I keep running into hateful people who are hurting my heart.