Monday, January 4, 2010

Part 2: New Year's Eve: Billy In Trouble (continued)

(Blogger's Note: I posted last week's excerpt --New Year's Eve: Billy In Trouble--as a cautionary tale. It was meant to point out to hard-partyers of all ages that there are worse things than boredom. But it turns out I didn't have the heart to leave Billy at the point of being torn limb from limb by backwoods Deliverance-type smashed-drunk savages, or gobbled alive by a wild dog pack, so here's the rest of the excerpt. As it begins, Billy is being thrown out of a speeding car. He is the narrator.)

"...He's throwing up! He'll ruin the car!" Friedelund yelled, and I was seized by enormous hairy hands and flung out the door of the moving car, sailed through at least twenty feet of night air like a shooting star and landed rolling in the ditch. The car peeled out smoking. The dog pack began howling again.

"I stayed put in that ditch, afraid to so much as put my head up. Between the young savages and the wild dogs, I didn't see how I dared stir all night. I lay there shaking as it grew colder and colder. I wondered if people could go crazy from fear.

"I'd just had this thought when headlights swung over the hill and a car followed fast. I thought it was the seven giant kids coming back to finish me off. I tried to crawl away fast and low like a snake, and collapsed. The lights swung over me. I snapped tight into the fetal position, hoping to protect vital organs, and locked my arms over my head. The car slowed, then stopped. There was a pause. Then the car door opened and there was the sound of a great big boot setting itself down with deliberation on gravel. Another boot followed, and after a minute, the boots approached me.


"I knew that voice. It was Brian Aaltonen, my Uncle Joe's deputy sheriff, and that was Brian's shaving lotion, the very one Joe had teased him about that afternoon. "Whoo hoo!" Joe had said. "Beware all fillies!" Now I lay there with my nose frozen by icy snot to ditch weeds and although I'm not religious I thought silently," Thank you Lord of mercy, thank you Lord God of Hosts for Brian."

"Goddamn it, Billy, your uncle told you he never wanted to find you passed out and buck naked in a ditch somewheres. Was it too much to ask?"

"I'm not naked," I said. My coat and jeans had a hell of a lot of peppermint schnapps spilled on them, but at least I was still wearing them.

Then I couldn't remember moving, but somehow found myself in the front seat of Brian's car. He said, "If you throw up in my car, I'll nail you to the hood like an ornament."

He drove me back to Uncle Joe's without a word. I kept looking at him sideways. Brian dressed for New Year's Eve was a sight to behold. He wore black from head to foot. He had a fine, bulky black leather jacket that made rich sounds when he moved. He was laden in gold, a flash of chains at his neck, but the gold was not brighter than his blond mullet.

I kept expecting a big meaty haranguing lecture from him, but there was none. I couldn't believe it. When we approached Uncle Joe's driveway he turned the engine and lights off.

"Window?" he said, and we coasted right up to my bedroom window.

"See you in church," Brian said. Then I climbed out, and he coasted away. We never mentioned it again.

(excerpt from the novella BILLY IN TROUBLE.)


  1. Wow, isn't "gritty" the word for a piece like this? What kind of research did you do to get such fine details on the kids -- they are quite convincing. Nice writing, Margaret.

  2. Caroline, thanks for your comment. "Research" for fiction usually means listening very carefully to true stories, new and old, or to what you've read in the newspapers--and then letting your imagination rock and roll. You don't have to live through what you've written about in a story. Thank God!