Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Writing Wednesdays: The American Dreamer 1.3

Part 4 of "The American Dreamer." The previous parts are linked appropriately, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Also, I'm trying to keep these posts around 1200 words for the story sections. Do you all think that is too much or not enough? (My typical non-Wednesday posts are around 600-900 words, usually in the low end unless I'm musing...) Thanks for any feedback or criticism.

Jimmy McNayre
I went to check on Hank a few times while he was out. Dr. Stovaugh said that he didn’t appear to be making any progress, but he also said that he didn’t appear to be getting worse, either. Ten days passed and Hank still had not recovered. Understandably, his parents were devastated. Mt. Easter was in an uproar over the incident, but there was no proof leading to who had attacked Hank. Anyone with a pair of eyes and a beating heart could tell who had attacked him, but what could we do about it? One day I approached Jesse Stevens during our lunch hour. I told him flat out that I knew it was him and that he was gonna pay for what he did. I intended to punch him in the face or kick him in the knee, but instead I just leered at him for a long, silent moment. I let all of my animosity out in that stare, daring him to do something about it. He soon was shamed and looked away, like a dog does when it knows it’s done something wrong. I whispered it into Hank’s ear that afternoon when I went to see him. It would be our little secret. We weren’t best friends, but we were friends, and friends stick up for each other.

I started collecting these statements about Hank at an early age, back when we were both much younger. At the time I was simply curious. In the early years I would pose as a Government Worker, asking my questions. When I could, I’d get updates from my informants, but that didn’t happen as much as I’d wanted. First I would start out broad, getting general information about the Tasla family, and then I would hone in and ask about Hank. After he left Mt. Easter this became much more difficult to accomplish.

The whole thing is strangely familiar to me. I appear to be in a holding cell, likely deep beneath the earth, judging by the musty smell and the cool walls. While it is cold and dark, it’s not from the lack of light and warmth. There are glowing orange wires of some sort, running all along the cracks of where the stone walls meet the ceiling. They are my soul companion. I am thankful for the light, but the heat just leaves me desiring more. I can hear nothing outside the door but for the occasional sounds of shooting sparks.

I have no idea how long I’ve been down here, nor do I know what they want with me. So I sit here and think on my life. It could be summed up in three words: Loss. Pain. Empty. All I have are these scraps of a life, half-filled memories of different people, different times, different worlds.

The door swings open and in walks the small man with the mustache. “Hello, Hank. I’m glad you’ve woken up.” He waits for me to respond, so I grunt. “If you would come with me I would like to try and help you.” I have nothing to lose.

The corridor is mostly an extension of the cell. Instead of wires lining just the top of the wall, there are wires also along the middle and bottom. Apparently three lines of wires produces much more heat than one set. I can hear water flowing somewhere.

The man leads me down a flight of stone stairs and into another room. “Watch your eyes,” he says as he opens the door. This room is completely different than the last. Bright orbs of light hang from the ceiling, showering the room in complete white. The sudden transition causes me to stagger for a moment. When my vision returns I notice several sets of wires along the walls, floors, and ceiling, all glowing dull orange. The heat in the room is nearly unbearable.

Near the back of the room are a desk and two chairs. He leads me there, offering me a seat. “Hank Tasla,” he states simply. What am I supposed to say? I nod. He picks up a large manila folder. I can see many sheets of neat, lined paper inside. I see the name HANK TASLA printed neatly as he holds up the folder.

“This is my greatest achievement, Hank, but also my biggest blunder. When I first met you, you were malnourished and gravely ill, barely a weaned babe. I was in Budapest, preparing to travel to France when I found you.” He paused, sitting the folder down and flipping it open. “Things are not easy for me to explain, and my tale is not one with glory, but I shall do my best to make sense to you. I owe it to you.”

I nod, once again confused. What is this man talking about? “Hank, I imagine you must feel lost and broken, like your mind’s been thrown into a centrifuge and mixed about. Sadly, that is one of the side effects of my test. But I have found ways to counterbalance the memory loss. Memory, it turns out, is just another type of energy, one that I’m particularly interested in.”

The man leaned across the desk and looked into my eyes. “Hank, if you’ll give me the chance to help you, I believe that I can make you better.” I take him at his word.

The boy lay in his coma for a total of one hundred and seventy-two days. The remarkable thing was that it actually lasted that long. Initially he was swollen and dark blue. Several of his ribs were likely bruised, but he had no broken bones. His cuts and gashes were sewn up and stitched, and the swelling dwindled. Still the boy did not wake up. His body was eventually moved back to his home where Mr. & Mrs. Tasla could see to him. Ella still came by and visited, fiercely loyal to her dear friend. Pastor Andrew stopped by several times a month to check on the family and to pray with them.

The Tasla’s were grieved over their son’s dead-but-alive state. They couldn’t understand why someone would do something to their little angel. They considered uprooting and moving the family from Mt. Easter, but discarded the idea pretty quickly. Instead they chose to write letters to friends and family, encouraging them to move to the town, to settle and help the place grow.

As it happened, many of their friends and relatives decided to take the Tasla’s up on their offer and moved to the growing town. New shops and businesses opened up during the course of that summer and fall, and soon Mt. Easter began attracting more folks. By November of 1882 the population in Mt. Easter had risen by thirty-five per cent, and the Tasla’s were no longer the only family of color in the town.

As the town grew, so did my list of spies, each ignorant of the other’s existence. Life in the town continued on. Well, for everyone except for Hank Tasla, who was with me at the time.


Mandy Maria said...


logankstewart said...

Mandy Maria, thank you. Interesting indeed seems to be the word of choice regarding this story, which I think is a good thing. And thanks for stopping by my blog, I hope you return.

Crystal said...

Again, great post! Very Interesting!! How long do you plan on continuing this story?

Krista said...

I don't think it's too long at all. I sit down after my little ones off to bed, so I can take the story in...

I think you're doing a wonderful job, too! I'm excited to figure out what's happening to Hank. As the others said very interesting, and for me it's definitely a good thing :)

logankstewart said...

@Crystal: There are a few more installments to finish Part One of this story. I've started on Part Two, but I don't know if I'll be posting it up (at least not for a while). I'm glad you're liking it.

@Krista: Hey, thanks for taking it in, and thanks for the compliment. I hope you like where Part One goes and how it ends. There should be a few more posts to finish this first part.