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Blog My Fiction RUCKERPEIDIA Work-in-Progress Works

The Apprentice | A Work in Progress — RUCKERPEDIA

{ 404 words so far } “I am Death,” he tells me as he hands me the scythe. He had personally forged the blade out of stainless steel himself. I can’t help but be amazed at his resourcefulness, and the meticulousness of his craft, his attention to detail and his drive to be the best […]

via The Apprentice | A Work in Progress — RUCKERPEDIA

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Blog My Fiction RUCKERPEIDIA Work-in-Progress Works

A Patchwork Companion | A Work in Progress — RUCKERPEDIA

{ 639 words so far } Just before dusk the man took a break from his work in the basement. He was not hungry, or more specifically, he had no appetite. Instead he opted for a cold beverage from the refrigerator in the kitchen to quench his thirst. Only when he popped the cap off […]

via A Patchwork Companion | A Work in Progress — RUCKERPEDIA

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My Fiction Work-in-Progress

A Nice Warm Welcome, Right?

~ written sometime in 1998 ~

The abrupt sound of knocking on the door echoed throughout the studio and startled him.  Aside from his parole officer, he had no other company to expect.

“Mister Johns, you in there?” That was the annoying voice of the landlord, Albert McFarland coming from behind the door.  The man went by Al.  His voice reminded Maynard of Jackie Gleason on that old sitcom The Honeymooners.  McFarland knocked again.

Hold your damn horses, he wanted to say.  He opened the door to see the short rotund man as he stood there with a cheap cigar in his mouth.  McFarland gave him a once-over, a look of suspicion in his sharp gray eyes.

“Yeah, what can I do for you?” Maynard said, his morning voice untested and rough.

“Just came to have a look at those blinds,” McFarland said. “And I forgot to mention your air unit ain’t exactly up to snuff either.”

Was that all?  Maynard didn’t buy it.

“Mind if I come in for a sec?”

“Well, I was just on my way out.” Maynard said.  “I’m all out of squares, figured I’d go down to the Village Pantry for some.”

“Mister Johns, I can inspect them without you being here.”

For some reason he didn’t want the man to set foot in his home sniffing around for whatever things his obvious suspicions inspired him to.  It reminded him of a prison warden.

“This won’t take but a second, Mister Johns.”

McFarland stepped inside with a notepad, observed the blinds and made his notes.  “Prison, huh?  What’s that like, if ya don’t mind my asking?”

“I see word gets around.”

“No way Jennifer at the office wouldn’t tell me something like that, Mister Johns.”

“Well, let’s just say I’m a changed man, Mister McFarland.  Completely rehabilitated and reformed.  I’m not one to dwell on the past.”

McFarland said, “Well, I’m sure you understand some folks might not be comfortable with the idea of a known felon in the building—”

“That’s former felon—”

“Well,” McFarland said having worn out his welcome already, “Don’t take it too personal if folks act a little skittish around ya.”

McFarland took a quick glance around the studio and then made his way to the door.

“So about those blinds and the air conditioning,” Maynard said.

“I’ll get my maintenance guy on it. Might be a week or so.”

Maynard shook his head at the ridiculous wait time and let McFarland out. The portly landlord entered the hallway and wobbled toward the stairwell that led to the upper levels.

“Now you have yourself a good day, Mister Johns.”

“Every day of freedom is a good day, Mister McFarland.”

Taken from my story “All Things Considered”, a previously published work now being expanded into a novella. © 2010 Brandon L. Rucker.

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My Fiction Work-in-Progress

Make Them Pay

~ written 11/22/2010 ~

Just before dusk the man took a break from his work in the basement. He was not hungry, or more specifically, he had no appetite. Instead he opted for a cold beverage from the refrigerator in the kitchen to quench his thirst. Only when he popped the cap off the bottle did he realize that today had been his thirty-first birthday. A lot had happened in his life the past few years; several notable, calamitous events had irrevocably changed his life. He wasn’t sure if he had even acknowledged the arrival and subsequent passing of his twenty-ninth or thirtieth birthdays. His work was that demanding of his attention; his focus was keener these past two years than it had ever been in his life.

He was anxious to return to his work downstairs, but something stirred inside him—emotion—a sensation that had been alien to him for quite some time. As the wave of nostalgia crashed over him, he found himself drawn up into the attic where he kept the many keepsakes of his special memories. The old wooden stairs creaked beneath his feet. The floorboards groaned as he walked toward the cedar chest near the small widow.  Seized by the eager dark of night the attic remained in gloom because he did not turn on the ceiling light. He knew every item contained in this attic intimately, but he did not want to be overcome with emotion if he could see every picture, or every handwritten letter, or every piece of lovely jewelry clearly under the luminescence.  Simply being in their presence or feeling them by hand would be enough to move him to tears.

A few years back he had been a great husband and an anxious soon-to-be new father of twins.  A boy and girl, the ultrasound had confirmed.  He always wondered if the twins would have been identical or fraternal. However, he was never meant to know them, at least not for as long and as intimately as a father should.

The doctors and nurses had other plans for him. He believed they had sinister plans for his wife, and downright nefarious plans for their unborn children. That was the only explanation that made sense. The only explanation he would accept. Of course the powers- that-were—the entire medical staff and all the lawyers involved with the case—did not support his claim, but why would they?

He simply would not budge from his understanding of how it all happened. Why else would the love of his life be allowed go into premature labor with two fetuses in frank breech? Why else would she be allowed to hemorrhage profusely until she lost enough blood to rob her body of a fighting chance? Something had gone wrong during the emergency Cesarean section operation. The twins were pulled from the womb, delivered by the hands of the ob-gyn surgeon, but his wife did not make it through. Soon after that the premature twins lost their fight, if they even had a fighter’s chance.

The reasons were inexplicable. The explanations given by the medical staff were a series of unproven theories and scientific gobbledygook. He didn’t buy any of it.

What he did do was solemnly swear that he would bring vengeance upon those responsible. The police, the lawyers, no one else would deliver justice. He had to use his own hands and means to bring justice, one impeachable person at a time.

But first he had more pressing work that demanded his attention. He descended back down to the basement where, in their own specific ways, three women who bore a striking resemblance to his dead wife awaited his intense focus and determination.

Taken from my story “A Patchwork Companion” © 2010 Brandon L. Rucker

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My Fiction Work-in-Progress

A Very Bad Day

~ written 1/24/2006 ~

CRUNCH.

That was the sound Caleb Shaw heard while lying on the pavement as he watched a steel-toed boot stomp his left hand—the hand he had used for fingering the fret board of his Les Paul guitar just an hour ago—and the cell phone that was in it.  That was after receiving a few blows to the torso, front and back, which had landed him.  Sure, the various fists, elbows and knees delivered their own brand of hurt, but it was a manageable pain, the kind most men just swallowed with ego, pride and maybe a few over-the-counter feel-good pills and a shot of hard liquor.  The smashing of his hand, though, that delivered something altogether different and new.

Yeah, crunch was what he heard.

But what he felt?

A pain so unbearable that the scream, which his body—hell, his very soul—had mustered got lost sub-sonically in the ether, but only temporarily.  After a few seconds of uncontrolled breathing and the realization of what had just happened, not to mention the hot, throbbing indescribable pain, the banshee’s wail became a little more cooperative and launched unbridled from his gaping mouth along with spittle and unintelligible swear words.  The bits of plastic imbedded in his skin from the shattered cell phone helped add to his misery.

Were the bones in his hand broken?  Caleb was a musician, not a doctor, but his uneducated guess and deduction from the obvious was that they were, or rather they damned well better be to cause that kind of agony.

No, check that: he didn’t want the bones to be broken; hell, he was a guitarist in an up and coming rock band, to get to the crux of the matter.  Besides, a broken hand would likely require surgery, and surgery required, among many other things he didn’t have, insurance.  Probably also meant more pain of an indefinite length of time.  But strangely that was the least of his concerns.

Caleb wasn’t sure exactly who had inflicted such cruelty upon his unsuspecting hand and really it didn’t matter. There was nothing he could do about it.  Encircled above him stood his band’s manager, Manny Napolitano and the band’s four road hands, whose names Caleb never could keep straight.  As he had recently come to understand, Emanuel “Manny” Napolitano was more than a manager, he was a connected guy.  And the guys acting as the band’s road crew, including the bus driver, were all Manny’s boys, all of them connected through him. Manny was probably no more than small time and the other guys, his underlings, likely weren’t even registering on the food chain of the business; mere soldiers.  Still, they took orders from Napolitano as if he was a Made Man.

Taken from my story “Get Gone” © 2006 Brandon L. Rucker.

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My Fiction Work-in-Progress

He Must Be Dreaming

~ written 2/27/2006 ~

I had to be dreaming.

That’s the only way to explain it ‘cause there’s no goddamn way I was lying next to her, holding her in my arms snug and safe, her smelling the way she always does, like a bouquet of flowers, making me go stiff like a stale cadaver at the morgue, only I’m no dead man ‘cause she’s got me more alive than ever, like she’s my goddess giving me the gift of life, though all she really did in the end was give me the curse of heartache.

Only in a dream would she still be whispering in my ear:

“I want you, Lenny…”

“I need you…”

“My heart would die if I never saw you again…”

Only in reality would I not be smart enough to know that a dame like that would never stick with a loser like me.  I’m not what most would call a looker, my face always the best impression of a mug shot after a night of boozing and passing out on the couch ‘cause I had nothing better to do.  If I’m not in the streets pulling a con, grifting this and that, then I’m holed up in my low-rent studio crib drowning my sorrows in the exclusive company of friends with names the likes of Jack Daniels and Remy Martin.

— viewpoint character Lenny DeLeo.

Taken from my story “Another Dame, Another Problem” © 2006 Brandon L. Rucker.

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Character Monologues My Fiction Work-in-Progress

A Matter of Perspective

~ written 2/24/2006 ~

“The way I see it I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. That sounds a little strange coming from a degenerate gambler like me, but it all depends on at what perspective in The Game I’m saying it from. When I’m up on cloud seven, nine and eleven, winning four-figure stakes, that means I haven’t won enough and much gain is still yet to be gotten. It means my booty on chance has only begun. But when I’m saying it from rock bottom, having lost my shirt, my good shoes and maybe even a few teeth, that means I got nothing left to lose, the only way to go from there is upward. So either way you look at it, I’m always looking up.”

— viewpoint character Max Van Gelder.

Taken from my story “Max-a-Million” © 2006 Brandon L. Rucker.