Novel Excerpt Two

“UNTITLED TRACK 008 – GENRE UNKNOWN” is my cheat fiction for the COVER STORIES anthology, because it started not with music but as an excerpt from my novel’s first draft (working title ONE WEEK LATER).  I began writing the novel in October 2003, working from two pages of notes on a legal pad that grew into a 50,000-word manuscript in exactly 30 days.

Shortly after that burst of creative energy, I managed to produce only the first half of a mediocre second draft.  The flare spent, the novel went on the shelf.

When asked by Christian if I’d like to contribute to a music-inspired anthology, I hadn’t written a word of fiction in almost five years.  Most of the fictions for the book were informed by some turbulent episodes of my life.  But another thing that came back to mind was the novel manuscript.  No longer on a shelf after our move to a new home, I was forced to dig it out of a box in the basement.

After combing through the manuscript, I knew I wanted to complete the novel hiding within, make it into something uniquely mine, dwelling on subjects and themes that excited and engaged me as both a writer and a reader.

So when my ten euphictions were finally put to bed, I plunged into my hubris, begged my literary soul brother for assistance, and decided to devote 2010 to completing what I’m calling, [[ SHAPE OF MAN RUNNING ]].

I most likely will not meet my goal of completing the novel before the end of the year, but I am making progress.  I’m not a slacker; I’m doing the work.  The book has unfolded for me like a blossom with a multitude of complicated overlapping petals, equal parts engaging and overwhelming.

An episode of my audio show MuseionCast is devoted to the opening of the novel, and can be heard here.

What follows is a second excerpt of the novel that picks up a few paragraphs after MuseionCast Volume 3, Episode 4 ends.

An Excerpt From: [[ SHAPE OF MAN RUNNING ]] by N. Pendleton

In and out I go and then there’s daylight again, but no sun.  I find my feet, stumble out the door into soaking, hot rain that seeps through my hair and clothes.  Uneasy on my legs, I use the wall for support.  My cell phone is dead, so I chuck it to the gutter.  There’s a public phone on the corner so I go there.  One sock sops up a warm puddle by the public phone; I must have lost a shoe somewhere along the way.

The receiver dangles off the hook and I lift it to my ear hoping for a tone.

“I’m lonely,” says a voice on the other end, and it sounds distant over a bad connection.

“Fuck off,” I say, and slam the receiver in its cradle, the force of the impact intended to ensure the completeness of the disconnection.  Time also severs connections, so I count off ten under my breath,


and only then do I lift the receiver back to my ear.  Dial tone.

I punch the numbers.  An automated voice asks for my municipal I.D.  I hammer the numbers into the keypad.


Electronic noises on the line.  The System is thinking.  This is a Reznich invention, the relocation service.  A convenience for a cluster of man-children who can barely comb their own hair.

I need a home.  The automated voice spits back an address.  I commit it to memory.

I shed my golden jacket.  My stiff, sodden trousers are a disgrace, so I kick them off onto the pavement.  So goes the remaining shoe, the socks, and the silk boxers too.  I hobble down the street towards home on legs that are only now remembering how to walk, bathing in the hot rain.  Unhampered by the past, my burden is light.  Just me and my swinging dick.

I keep my shoulder holster and Baby Eagle too.  Some habits are too hard to drop and we feel naked without them.  It’s baby steps on this, the day of rebirth.

And it is like the moments after birth: new animal learning new legs.  One foot in front of the other.  Wobble, wobble, nice and slow.  On through hot rain and down empty streets, once-familiar walkways are brand new.  A smear of green encroaches on the upward thrust of concrete and glass, and I’m in Liberation Park, what we in the Inner Circle called Mayor’s Head Park.

I head toward Bram’s monument to himself, the one I built for him.  All paths converge on it like spokes on a wheel.  I slam into the course alabaster hide and plant my hand on brass.  Beads of water trace words etched into the plaque:


I drop to my knees.  The concrete eats into flesh and bone.  The pain is a reminder that I’m still alive.

I plant my naked ass on the hot cement, lay back against this obelisk that is the great monument to the rise of our Cousin Bram’s Party of the Golden Rule.

Something is wrong.  Eyes cast upward into the diffuse light of day.  Rain plummets, pools, distorts the vision.  A bleary shape approaches, clicks on the pavement grow louder.  Someone approaches.  I’ve been followed, maybe all the way from the Rococo, and without even thinking about it, my Jericho Baby Eagle is in my hand.  But it wobbles, the hand, the same as the legs.  Drunkenness and severe trauma and rebirth will do that.  It’s got to be in a medical book somewhere.  The approaching figure is on top of me now.  I try to draw a bead somewhere near the center.  It’s only a dark blob-shape of a human that seeps and undulates in rainy eyes, but it’s enough.  Hammer will detonate a tiny explosion, the projectile will scream forth and this intruder on my rebirthday party will bleed like the rest.  Fall and die like the rest, and leave me here with an empty peacemaker and no exit strategy of my own.  My finger twitches like it always does just before showtime.  I start to apply some pressure.

“You’re soaked, you poor man,” coos a soft voice from the human-shaped blob over me.  I smell cotton blossoms.  Free hand swipes the rain from my eyes, and I look now, really look.  Only soft round beauty, green eyes, and thick curly ringlets of spun platinum and strawberry-tinted gold.  I can see all of her now, this petite young woman with blue blossoms on her dress, protected by a transparent raincoat and hood.

“You don’t hide anything,” I mumble.  The Baby Eagle falters and I drop its arm to my lap.  The weight presses over my limp cock.  “This animal can’t hide anymore.”

“You poor thing,” she says again, and her voice is calm washing over me.  I try to set roots and grow branches, but she takes my free arm in her tiny hands, and helps me to my feet while the obelisk supports my weight.

“You’re coming with me.  I’ll take care of you,” the young woman says.

“It’s been one of those days, flower print messiah,” I reply.

She says nothing.  Her hand guides the Jericho back into the shoulder holster.  She takes the arm, pulls it up over her shoulder.  A foot shorter than me, she doesn’t have to stoop.  In truth, I carry most of my own weight.  Legs are stronger and the leaning isn’t necessary.  This woman shows me that the facts are beside the point, which is good because I very much want to be close to her.  I lean on her, embrace the intimacy.  Cotton blossoms fill my head, clear the storm, temper the flames, tame the wanton beast within.

And the hot rain stops.  Angels singing Handel tear the clouds asunder as the sun dazzles down upon us mortals and the city we’ve sullied once again.

“You are a goddess,” I say to the soft curves and valleys of her ear through the rain hood.  “I will worship you and do whatever you ask of me.  From here on, forever and until the end.  I swear to you.”

“You need some sleep, some food.  You need some care,” her voice sings.

“Thank you.  I’m yours, my goddess.”

“My name is Gloria,” she says, and its like a whisper, a bright light, and a serpent boring and writhing through me all at once.

“Yes.  Gloria.  I love that name.  I am yours, and you are my Gloria.”

Hallowed is her name.  On this earth as it is in the endless heavens.  Forever and ever.  A-fucking-men.

“The Method is very intimate,” My Gloria says, her face the moon above me, her eyes the guide stars Bellatrix and Polaris.  I’m lost in a canopy of spiraling locks.  The tang of strawberries touches my lips as I lay on soft sheets.  Her rooms are small, but they are cozy, a home.  Fully naked now, I am free of the leather harness.  My Gloria sits with my head in her naked lap.  A tuft of golden pubic hair tickles my ear.  Cotton blossoms mingle with the musk of her sex.  Slick, firm grapes penetrate my lips, explode between my teeth.  Next, a slice of peach.

“I’m covered in a kind of dirt that can’t be washed off,” I say.  “I’ve killed so many people in my short and unimpressive political career.  And before that, I was a killer of animals, too.”

My Gloria moves, lowers my head to the pillow, changes her position.  She feeds me her nipple, pale pink with raised areola.  It’s firm but yielding beneath my tongue.

“Here is where we start to draw together your disparate threads,” she says as her voice thickens.  Her breathing deepens and her fingers trail around the back of my head.  “Here is where we start to make you whole again and ease your dis-ease.”

The tip of me finds her swollen and moist folds, and she’s astride this new beast now, rocking her hips gently.  My Gloria glows in afternoon light diffused by chiffon drapes.

Mouth pulls away from her nipple, from deep in my throat comes, “I love you.”

She pulls me back to her breast, tilts her hips and the angle is sweet weeping anguish.  “As you may remember from the literature, what you are experiencing is very much a disease.  And the Method is the only known cure.  But you are not alone.  You must have complete trust in your recovery agent.  Do you trust enough to work with me as your recovery agent?”

I groan an affirmative.  Her face lights up, pink lips smile over white teeth as the tempo and pressure increase.  “Good, very good.  Just relax and let it come.”

I am in the moment between dreams and waking.  Something solid spirals into my head.  Mental fingers curl around the solid thing and study its textures, curves and sharp points.  Hand opens and the solid object goes liquid and slips away.

“I lost it,” I say.  “I’m sorry.”  And she pulls my face back to the nipple.  A gasp.  “Don’t let it get away,” she almost squeals.  And like the hand that guided my Jericho back to its holster, she now slides a hand of her own into my mind and together we gather up the solid thing once more into my palm.  “Hold it in your real hand, not your head.”  My Gloria commands, I obey, and there it is, a thing with weight.

Strokes come long and slow now, and I mistake the feeling for thirst.

“See, it’s a part of you the same way we are now part of one another,” she says.  “Touch it the way you touch me.”

I brush my fingers along a curve of the solid thing until I reach a series of prickly spines.  Needles sting.  I close my hand over it, claim it.  It becomes soft and pliable like dough, like skin.
“Caress,” My Gloria only whispers now, “like you would a knotted muscle.”

I do.  An expansion in my head, filling with something just heavier than light.

“Now we go through the steps.  We start at the beginning.  All the unraveled threads will be woven back together.”

Her breaths grow more rapid and match mine.  I clutch onto her hips, roll her onto her back.  We’ve become separated in the swap, but our reconnection is instinctive and full of grace.  Thrusting, melting deeper into her.  My Gloria takes my face in her hands.  Grunts match squeals.  Skins glaze with sweat.

Goddess presses foreheads with a beast and says, “Step One…”

The previous excerpt is Copyright 2010 N. Pendleton.  No reproduction is permitted without author attribution and a link back to this page.


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