More Than A Glimmer – Shakes

Posted on March 4, 2011 4:28 pm under Novel
Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Last November, I joined NaNoWriMo and wrote the first draft of Essentials.  I’m currently working on the second draft.   Homelessness is a major topic in this novel.  The following excerpt is part of a chapter describing residents of an abandoned subway tunnel.

      The lanky black man filled a plate and walked towards the far end of the tunnel,  easily avoiding the holes and cracks that peppered its floor.  He bent and offered the plate to a man crouched in the shadows.

     “Carver takes care of everyone.”   

     “Is that his real name?”

     “I don’t think so.  Folks down here want to forget the past.  They start a new life and choose a new name.  Sometimes others choose it for them.

     “Why Carver?”

     “Did you see that sheath on his left hip?   Makes me doubt that he was named for George Washington Carver.”  Barb patted her arm. “Don’t fret.  He’s a very gentle person, although  he wouldn’t hesitate to protect this family.”   She nodded towards the squatting figure.  “Shakes is pretty shy with new folk.  That’s you.  So Carver is bringing dinner to him.  Shakes would sooner starve than come any closer.”

     “Shakes.  Let me guess.  He has an affinity for milkshakes?”

     “Get closer and you wouldn’t have to ask.   He showed up one day, shaking and twitching.  We thought it was withdrawal.  He wouldn’t have been our first resident with an affinity for drugs.  Six months later, he’s still shaking.  The man fidgets constantly; fingers wiggling, feet tapping, eyes twitching.  Always looking over his shoulder.   Carver thinks he escaped from prison.  There was a break at the Jerome Facility a few days before he arrived.”

     “An escaped convict?  Oh my god.”

     “Shakes is harmless.   If he caused trouble, Carver would chase him out in a heartbeat.  But he doesn’t bother anyone.  Seems scared of his own shadow.”

     Maybe, but she could feel the hair rising on the back of her neck.

     “Aunt May is a different story.”  Barb indicated a tiny Asian woman huddled beside a camouflage tent. “Keep your distance.”

     “She looks pretty harmless.”

     Barb bent close and whispered in her ear.  “Just don’t mention roses.  This young graffiti artist was painting a flower garden on the east wall.  He added new flowers every day.  Sunflowers,  violets, petunias, geraniums.  They stretched for almost a quarter mile.  His work belonged in a museum, but he chose to paint for us.    We loved to sit and watch.  Aunt May goes down one afternoon to see what’s new.    She takes one look, screams ‘ROSES’ and grabs this big old iron pipe.  Clouts his head and knocks him down.  Then she jumps him and tries to impale him with it.  Took four of the men to restrain her.  Carver got him to the hospital.  She’d cracked a couple of his ribs and fractured his skull.  He never came back to finish the garden.”

     Shakes was looking better by the minute.


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Three Word Wednesday. is a meme that challenges writers to create something using three selected words. This week’s words are affinity,fidget and mention. Click on the link to view other entries or submit your own.

2 Responses to “More Than A Glimmer – Shakes”

  1. Sheilagh Lee Says:

    great story. I could picture it all.

  2. ThomG Says:

    a very engrossing tale. Loved it.