The Wormwood Files Revisited

I've decided to post some excerpts from an earlier draft of my novel in progress, WORMWOOD, NEVADA. I'll do this over the next couple of weeks, so as not to create one long, overwhelming post. These passages were from a previous draft that contained several different points of view, all of which have now been cut/absorbed, so this may very well be the only time they see the light of day. I like all these excerpts and am glad to give them some sort of exposure. Also, I've turned on comments again in case my adoring public wishes to say something nice about me.

"Clyde Excerpt #1"

Clyde Ringston watched his wife as she packed to leave him. Five suitcases lay gaping open on their bed, three of which he’d never even seen before. Arleen worked rapidly but still managed to sort her clothes into their appropriate case. Clyde normally enjoyed watching his wife of twenty-five years perform domestic actions like this, appreciating the quickness of her movements and her beautician’s attention to detail, but today Clyde found himself slouching during the show, spine curved inward while his arms dangled at his sides. He wanted to say something, but it’d be useless. Her jaw was set and it was like she’d forgotten his presence already and lived in a new, Clyde-less world.

Arleen finished packing and shut all five suitcases. Clyde stepped forward to carry the first two downstairs but Arleen slapped his hand away. Independent woman now. Would do things herself. Clyde stepped back and watched silently as she lugged the first two out of the room and started downstairs. The bedroom was weirdly empty during her absence and Clyde realized this is what it would be like; this was living alone. When she returned to the bedroom, Arleen grabbed all three remaining suitcases by their handles and lurched back out of the room again, staggering under the combined weight of some much cotton, nylon, and rayon. This time Clyde followed her down the stairs, worried she’d trip and break her neck and the cops would think he’d had done it in a sudden fit of husbandly anger.

The woman managed it, though, heaving everything out the door and into the backseat of her silver Mazda. Clyde stood on the front steps of their home, watching. The afternoon heat felt good to him. He wanted to lie down on a rock somewhere, like a lizard, and bask in the yellow light.

“Goodbye, Clyde.”

Clyde scratched his round stomach. He sold home, auto, and life insurance to the residents of Wormwood, which kept him busy enough to justify not exercising much.

“Okay then, Arleen. Drive careful.”

Arleen rolled her eyes like she did when she thought he’d said something obvious and stupid. She got into her white Mazda and backed down their gravel driveway. Clyde watched her car glide down the street like he’d done many times before and when it disappeared he turned his face towards the sun. Red light filled his mind. He thought about nothing for a long time and then went back inside the house. He was dressed in the green terrycloth robe she’d given him last Christmas and when he pressed the robe’s lapel to his nose he could smell the rosewater perfume she wore. Clyde shucked the robe off but the smell lingered, sticking to his skin like bug spray. He went upstairs and got in the shower. The water was very hot, as far as the dial would turn, but no matter how much he scrubbed he could still smell her. It was the soap. She used the same soap he did, and now he would need to buy a different brand of soap. Clyde pictured himself dying alone, smelling of strange soap, and his chest tightened beneath the spray of the shower head. He stood with his head cast down until the water ran ice cold and forced him out of the shower stall. He dried off with a fluffy mauve towel, and twenty minutes later Clyde Ringston was sitting downtown in Frankie’s Bar, his hand curled around a cold bottle of beer while he listened to Merle Haggard on the bar’s jukebox.


Blogagaard said...

Poor Clyde.

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