Heers wut ya git!

Pull up a seat and read a little. If you are from WV you are probably like me and have never learned to read so get someone to read it to you. I'm Skully, my friend Mike listens to me and translates my words from Hickglish to English. He is familiar with the ways of folks from other areas, and can communicate readily with the general populace.
(Fetch ya a char an lisen ta wuts heer. If’n yer frum West Verginua yu r proly lak me an ain’t had no reedin ejukashun so git sumbudy to reed it to ya. I’m Skully, ma frend Mak lisens ta mee an translates ma werds frum normul to wut them thar hi falootin peepole talks. He nows how to talk to outciders an can speek thar langwige.)

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Gift

A loud rapping at the door awoke me from a deep dreamy sleep. It was early, too early to be awake, and certainly too early to be out in the streets pounding on doors. I thought that there must be some emergency in town and ran to the door to find out whatever news there was from whoever was there. Much to my surprise, there was no one at the door ready to identify themselves and their message, and yet a package with my name on it had been left at the door. It was a most curious circumstance, and yet I saw no real harm in it, because secret gift giving was the hallmark of the holiday season. I myself had delivered many a gift in that manner over the years.

The package was heavier than it should have been from its size, and once I had it indoors I eagerly opened it to find out what it was and who had sent it. Alas, there was no identification of the giver, and more's the pity because what was inside was a most remarkable carved wood box, worked with figures of animals and dragons all over, in a magnificent shade of red. Whoever sent it to me must have been a prankster, though, because I could see no way into the box, no clasp or lock announced itself, no hinge or platen presented itself as a means to the inside. I was locked out, and most frustrated by this unfortunate turn of events.

I had tried everything to open the box, short of using tools and damaging it. It made no sound when shaken but there was something inside, no wood could weigh that much even if it were solid. The grain pattern could be seen and was continuous with no discernable marks other than the carvings.

I had a hard time concentrating at work that day. Arriving home that evening I decided that I would simply drill a hole into the mysterious gift to see what was inside. As I carried it down to the basement I felt as if I wasn’t alone. When I turned on the drill press I know I heard someone draw a sharp breath. I powered off the drill and searched the basement for an intruder and found nothing. Returning to the bench I selected a small bit and proceeded to drill into the bottom-center of the piece. After only an inch or so the woodturnings turned from white wood to gray metal. I reached to turn the drill off and felt the presence again and heard a voice… “Release”. I felt an intense sense of urgency as I again checked every corner and closet for an unwanted visitor.

I went to my bar and poured a glass of bourbon to try and shake off the tension. “Is that good whiskey?” came the voice from close behind me. I whirled around to find an old, gaunt man dressed in a gray civil-war uniform. He extended his hand, “my name’s Glen, I ain’t had a drink of good whiskey fer a long spell.” I felt as if I was being electrocuted but I shook his hand and retrieved a glass from the cabinet and poured a generous portion from the decanter. I produced two cigars and a light and asked, shaken, “can I help you with something?”

As we enjoyed our cigars and bourbon, my mysterious guest told an eerie story, “Durin’ the war there was Chinamun that was some kinda wizards. We’d see ‘em on the fields after a battle lookin’ over the dead. They’d take a lump o’ dirt or some such thing an’ say prayers over’n it. I seen one of ‘em after I got hit. He was kneelin’ an’ prayin’ in front of the tree that was behind me when I got hit in the chest by a Yankee cannonball; went right through me an' stuck in that maple tree. I don’t know what happened next but it seemed lak a lotta months went by an’ I could see the tree an’ this little Chine'e feller ever’day a-prayin’ by that tree. One day I seen ‘im cut it down an’ take a piece home with ‘im. He carved all them animals on it an’ I been trapped in thar ever since. I thank ya fer a-letin’ me go."

The man faded from my sight as he finished his glass, he retained the extinguished cigar butt; chewing it as he smiled at me and disappeared.


tiff said...

How cool!

As for suggestions - I got a tiny bit waylaid in the passage about HOW he wound up in the box. I wanted to know more about why. I quite liked the dialect writing - not easy to do.

Biff Spiffy said...

Inventive! So that's how the box came to be so heavy.

Ditto on the dialect, that was fun to read, especially as a Yankee...

I liked the creepiness of the presence. I could feel it.

The passage from the handshake to 'can I help you' was a bit awkward. I got the picture but it took some rereading.

It's hard to go wrong with good bourbon and cigars. Cheers!

the only daughter said...

Creative choice.

I'm confused about the breathing presence before the drilling began. If the presence was in the box, released only after the drilling...who, what was breathing in the basement?

Pretty good n creepy.

Kingfisher said...

This misfired: How he got in the box was confusing. Tinker with the balance of mysticism and plausibility a little.

This worked: Dialect. Very, very difficult to pull off. In most cases you succeeded. I especially liked "chinamun," with all its historically relevant racist connotations.

Thanks for joining us!

Anonymous said...

Good premise. I liked the ghost and the concept of how he got in the box. I would've liked to see maybe a tiny bit more reasoning behind why these chinese wizards were trapping ghosts - using them for nefarious schemes, maybe?

For me, I think there was a little too much waiting and breathing and stopping prior to the drilling.

Due to the strict word limit, I sure would have liked to have more of the ghost character (who was really great!) and less of the in between - just jump right to the drilling! :)

Good story!

Rosie said...

Howdy Neighbor,

I quite enjoyed this and you have a good feel for dialect. Your beginning, middle and end were clearly defined.

The only notes I'd offer are structural ones involving your quotations on the Strunk side of writing. I'd like to see them set off by themselves in their own paragraphs to maximize their impact.

The long quote where he tells his story... I'd like to see that broken up. Perhaps telling me something about what the two characters are doing during the recitation...ie how are they drinking the whiskey and smoking the cigars?

The content is really great...I'd just like to see it arranged differently. Don't be afraid of using shorter paragraphs. It makes the writing easier to read if you have a mix of shorter and longer paragraph structure.

Well done!