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Lawless III
2010-04-23, 02:10 AM
I wrote this almost a year ago, but I still think it's the best thing I've written. Any thought or critiques would be appreciated. Heck, I appreciate anyone reading it. :smallsmile:
Spoilered for length.
The Pickup

The sound of pool balls clinking together filled the room. It was just about midnight in the pool hall and there was only one small group of guys left in the place. A hand full of twenty-something year olds and a kid of about fourteen had been gathered around the same table since eight and the bartender wanted to close up for the night.. He hadn’t even wanted the teen to come in to begin with, but the older ones in the group looked like they might start trouble if he hadn’t consented, so he had folded on the whole issue. The group had bought just enough drinks to make them worth staying open for, but they hadn’t so much as looked at him for over an hour. The barkeep was weak-willed by nature, so he gathered up what courage he could and went over to speak to the lingering customers. There were five of them including the younger one. The four older ones were gathered around the table and the younger one was slumped in a chair a few feet away. It looked as though the kid had fallen asleep watching their game. He was a skinny, blonde kid of about medium height. When the bartender looked at the guys still playing pool, it was easy to see that one of them was his older brother. The elder brother was of a more substantial build than his sibling, but there was still a strong family resemblance. The whole group wore ripped jeans and over-sized jackets of either plaid flannel or worn leather. He figured the boys must have driven up from Genesee. There wasn’t much in the way of entertainment in that part of the county, so its lower-middle class residents and their progeny often drove up his way for a night on the town. They all looked up at him as he walked over.

“I’m closing up shop boys,” he said gently. “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”

The older of the two brothers, seemingly the leader of the little group sunk the eight-ball and put his cue back in the holder. “Sure thing barkeep. Lemme just get my brother and we’ll be on our way.” He nudged his little brother’s shoulder with his hand as the others hung up their respective cues. “Come on Squaw, wake up. We gotta go.” The kid opened his eyes and yawned.

“What time is it, Cooper?” He asked sleepily. He hadn’t wanted to go out with his brother tonight to begin with.

“It’s about twelve. We need to get going,” Cooper answered.

The troupe walked out as the bartender began putting up the chairs. Cooper and the other of their driving members had thought far enough ahead not to do any drinking. Cooper knew for a fact that a DUI would lose him his security job, and that was the only thing keeping him and his brother fed. In fact, none of them could afford to be unable to drive, so they never risked it. Cooper and Squaw said their goodbyes to the rest of the group and walked towards their car. It was, without a doubt, the worst vehicle any one they knew owned. The pickup was at least twenty years old. Even when it was new, it had been the bottom of the line cheapest heap available. The chipped paint, the cracked headlights, and the crooked license plate all ensured its dubious quality. There were only two seats in the cab, and the radio was AM only. When it moved, it sounded like one of the jeeps from Indiana Jones. To top it all off, the thing leaked oil like it was a fountain. Cooper had affectionately named the car Molly.

As they pulled out of the parking space, a man walked up to the driver’s side window and rapped on it lightly. Cooper rolled it down cautiously. Both he and his brother quickly recognized him. He was the homeless man that lived more or less in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Squaw was sort of fond of the man. He was always singing in this booming bass voice he had. He sang mostly church songs, but his favorite piece to do was “Somewhere under the Rainbow.” He was never pushy or creepy like a lot of the area’s homeless. He always seemed a lot more lucid. Whenever you gave him any money, he’d always say he was going to pray for you. Cooper told Squaw all the time that he probably spent all the change he got on booze anyway, but even Cooper couldn’t help but give the man a buck or two now and again. He leaned his head in the window a little.

“Any chance ya’ll are headed up past Donavan Road?” He asked with smile.

“As a matter of fact we are. Hop in the bed and I’ll drop you off at the Arco station on the corner. I gotta fill up anyway,” answered Cooper. They heard him climb in over the side. He hit the side of the car twice with the flat of his hand and they took off. The bed of the truck was windy to be sure, but it was pretty warm out that time of year. They were only taking the man a few miles anyway. He leaned his back up against the cab and drew his knees up to his chin. In his deep, rich voice he began humming some old-timey tune. It was the kind of song everyone recognizes, but no one can name. In the cab, Squaw could hear every note. The tune made him even sleepier than he already was. He sat in a dazed state for a while taking it in. It made him think of the summers he spent as a kid playing Cowboys and Indians with his brother and their friends. Cooper was always the Indian chief. Naturally his little brother wanted to be on his team, but he too scrawny to really compete with the other boys. Eventually they decided he was the squaw. The damn name had never really worn off. He nodded off in the middle of his remising.

Cooper looked over at the sleeping form of his sibling. The song from the bed flowed through him, overwhelming him with vague remembrances. He remembered when he and Squaw’s parents were still alive. He remembered back when his mom used to make them breakfast and how his dad used to play catch with them in the back yard. He remembered being in school and not having to work to support himself as well his younger brother. He hadn’t thought that being the sole guardian of his brother would be this hard. Sometimes he wished he could go back to being an irresponsible kid, but that would mean losing Squaw. That was more than he could bare. In his head, he decided that they would stay at their aunt Tilley’s place tonight. She lived in Saginaw and that was a good deal closer than their home in Genesee.

It wasn’t long before Cooper pulled the car into the gas station. He went inside and put some money on number three, enough to get them through the next day or so. He also bought two Cokes for himself and the homeless man, and a Yoo-hoo for his little brother. As he walked out, the homeless man was lighting himself a cigarette. Cooper offered him the coke.

“Thanks but no thanks man,” he said. “Caffeine is too damn addictive.” He took a drag and walked off laughing at his own joke.

Cooper put the drinks in the cab, sticking the extra under his seat for later. As he was filling the tank, Squaw woke up. He found his Yoo-hoo and shook it until all the condensed parts were mixed in well enough for his liking. He sat there drinking it and tried to figure out what song was stuck in his head until Cooper returned.

“Do you mind staying at Aunt Tilley’s tonight?” Cooper asked. “I’m pretty tired and it’s a lot closer.”

“No, its okay,” he answered. ”Plus, that means we get a real breakfast in the morning. She always makes us eggs and bacon and pancakes when we stay there.” Tilley was their father’s cousin. Despite being as sweet a lady as you’re likely to ever find, she was what most would unflatteringly refer to as a spinster. Long ago, she decided that her cats and relatives were the only company she needed. As far as anyone could tell, she had never regretted it. She was always happy to see the two brothers, late hour or not, and truth be told, often took to missing them when they went too long with out a visit.

They drove in silence for a while. Squaw drifted in and out of sleep, until the car jumped and the engine backfired. His whole body lurched to attention in his fright.

“Don’t worry,” Cooper said calmly. “This car is a piece of junk. The noises go hand in hand.”

“Does this thing even have airbags?” Squaw asked. He was still more than a little shaken up.

“I doubt it,” Cooper answered him bluntly. “Doesn’t it kind of excite you though? I mean, we could both die any minute. If I just swerved into another car, it would kill us both.” His face was taut and manic. Squaw stared at him in silence for a minute.

“Please don’t kill us,” Squaw said in the smallest voice Cooper had ever heard. For a minute, Cooper just gripped the steering wheel, his knuckles turning white. He then released it with long sigh.

“I would never kill you buddy. I was just kidding. Don’t worry about it.” Cooper wasn’t sure why he said that to him. He had been serious about how much the danger excited him, and he hated lying to his brother. Still, he knew Squaw just wouldn’t understand what he meant. Not yet anyway. Squaw didn’t need an escape like he did, Cooper hoped he never would.

This reassured Squaw enough to go back to sleep. He slept right up until they got to Aunt Tilley’s. He was so out of it that Cooper had to carry him in. Tilley came to the door in a heavy old night gown and let them in. She was tired, but glad to see them nonetheless. Cooper laid Squaw down on the guest bed, assuming he was asleep. He then began speaking in hushed tones to their aunt in the doorway. Squaw couldn’t hear what they were saying, but he saw Tilley give Cooper a hug. He thought he saw Cooper crying, but he had never seen Cooper cry before, not even at their parents’ funeral. He figured he must have imagined the tears in his fatigued state of mind. Cooper and Tilley walked out of his line of sight, so he gave in and let sleep wash over him.

When Squaw woke up, Cooper had already left. He cried for a while, but he knew this was for the best. He sat in the guest room, his room, humming this song he had stuck in his head. Elsewhere, Cooper was whistling it to himself. Neither one of them could figure out what it was, but they both seemed to know it, as did the saintly, musical, homeless man. It was a song of longing for days gone by. It was always with them.

Zolkabro
2010-04-27, 11:22 AM
You should post it in the Writing Workshop thread. Then you will get loads of critiques.

DSCrankshaw
2010-04-27, 01:40 PM
Unfortunately, you can't post a story for critique until you've critiqued three stories yourself. Rules are rules.

Comet
2010-04-27, 01:48 PM
The critiques you 'have' to make over at the workshop don't have to be very long, though, so it's not much of a obstacle. Besides, helping fellow writers out by offering new insight into their work is both fun and educational!

Anyway, I'd have a look at your text, but it's very nearly impossible for me to get into it when it's in a state like that.

First things first, do some formating on it. This means breaking up that huge wall of text into smaller, bite-sized chunks with empty spaces between them. This makes reading stuff on a monitor that much easier and should be the default format whenever submitting your writing online.

Do that and I'd imagine people would be more willing to take a proper look at it. And do pop by the workshop if you feel like it, it can get pretty quiet at times over there :smallsmile:

Lawless III
2010-04-28, 09:19 PM
I was not even aware of the aforementioned thread. I don't visit Arts and Crafts that often. I will look for that.

I turned this in earlier this week. So, it's not really an issue anymore. The final version was a bit different than the one I put up. I'm going to switch the final product for the one here as soon as I finish writing this.

Also, the formatting was better in the original document, it just got screwed up in the spoiler for some reason. I'll try to make sure it doesn't happen again.