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Incidents in the life of John Farson
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Letum



Joined: 20 Oct 2006
Posts: 149

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 9:04 pm    Post subject: Incidents in the life of John Farson Reply with quote

Maybe one day you will know why.



“John?” His mother tries to conceal the worry in her voice, but even a deaf man could have heard it. “John, come inside!” “Coming, ma!” John stands up, wiping his hands on his pants. He had been weeding in the small plot immediately behind the house and his fingers are dusted with powdery soil. With the energy of youth, for at nine he is young indeed, he dashes inside to see what has upset his mother. She waits for him at the back doorway, a woman too young for her worry-wrinkles. Hands pink from lye soap are folded demurely across a meticulously clean apron, worn thin almost to transparency by numerous scrubbings. She looks down at him when she speaks, but her hands remain bound. “Where have you been, John? I’ve been looking for you for half an hour.”

“John.” The word is not spoken loudly, nor harshly, but hardly, with a core of steel. As one mother and son pale, turning to face the source of that voice. “Come here, John.” The voice is at once without intonation and lilting. Its tone is of mockery and sadness. Obediently John walks into the dim house past his mother, who shrinks against the doorframe as if trying to blend into its grain. There in the front doorway, for this house lacks walls to separate its two doors, stands John Senior. John the Lesser walks to stand before his father, craning his head upward to look into the flinty eyes. Heavy, calloused hands descend to settle heavily on his shoulders. “My son, my son,” the voice muses. False joviality gives the lie. “Where have you been today?”

“I—“ Before more can escape, a hand rears back and down again and an open palm smashes across the boy’s face with a crack like a breaking branch. The cheap pine walls give back no echo. Little John is still trying to form his second word when his vision clears and he is met by his father’s face. The cheeks are gaunt and sunken, a strong jaw is withered and hidden by stubble. A mouth is torn between drawing up in a sneer, down in a frown, inward with rage and outward by sadness. The nostrils flare. Eyes deep in sockets bulge as if trying to climb from their pits. Those eyes are mad; those eyes are hideously sane. The warm exhalation of breath carries no odor. John Farson is no drunkard. He is a good man and proud of it!

Iron vices on his arms tell John he is suspended. He is too terrified to be scared. The hands are redundant; the eyes hold him pinned. “ Don’t try to lie to me, my son. I know better than to listen to words. Talk is cheap.” Delivered flatly like an item from a list, this is a favorite saying. “Actions speak louder than words. Show me your hands.” Obediently John works against the grip on his biceps to hold his hands up before his father’s face. Again with viper-quickness those hands fly, releasing the arms and clutching the wrists in one motion. John falls and is wrenched to a stop, bone fighting bone in his shoulders and muscle screaming in his armpits. He hangs now like a victim of an inquisition as his father interrogates his hands. He studies the scuffed leather of his father’s boots and bites back a whimper. One hand is released and he feels rough fingertips pinch his palm. Abruptly the other hand is released and he completes his fall to the floor, landing on his knees. With a soft rustle of fabric his father squats down, holding between his fingers a miniscule object. “John.” The son looks up from the floor to see a small brown splinter.

”This is from our fence. You left the land, didn’t you?” John nods, biting his lip and trying not to cry. “I already knew, of course, John. Mr. Devlin across the stream saw you traipsing about. It’s not safe out there, John.” The calm shatters and the man’s face contorts with fury as he takes his son’s head between his hands and screams, “NOT SAFE! NOT SAFE!” As if their composures hung by a common thread, the son also breaks, half-choking on sobs that are impeded by gasps of terror.

“You learn slowly, my son.” Again the voice is as still as the waters of a lake, and as cold. “But that can be forgiven. I will always forgive you. You are my son, and I love you.” With a grunt of effort and a rough scraping of rock on bark, John the Greater shifts the large boulder. Now John Junior is alone in the dark and the cold. At first he screams, pounding on the dirt all around and contorting himself in the narrow space. He runs out of energy with time, crying, then whimpering, then lying silently on the chill dirt. He is very, very still and cold. He pretends he is dead. It is okay that he is trapped under the ground, because that is what dead people do, and he is dead. When the worms creep from their hiding places to crawl over him, he knows this is true.
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Last edited by Letum on Tue May 22, 2007 9:15 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Aidinthel



Joined: 13 Mar 2006
Posts: 3145
Location: a series of lairs, each more secret than the last

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shocked That kid is going to need a lot of therapy.
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Heloly



Joined: 31 Jul 2005
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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's some high-quality writing.
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Letum



Joined: 20 Oct 2006
Posts: 149

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you. I try.
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Alec



Joined: 27 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did I miss something? When did he get trapped under the ground?
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Letum



Joined: 20 Oct 2006
Posts: 149

PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a small break in continuity before the last paragraph.
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Amaunator



Joined: 03 Dec 2005
Posts: 2074
Location: Belgium ... innocuous but intrepid!

PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting - an understatement, but it lends quality to my opinion nonetheless Wink - story there, Letum.
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Sabredurid330



Joined: 27 Sep 2006
Posts: 503

PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Incredibly detailed and well written. If it's page one and you already feel for the characters you know you're in for a good ride.

Quote:
a strong jaw is withered is hidden by stubble
I think you might have wanted an and there?
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Keltor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 212

PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

%#*&in' yeah! I am always glad to have more writing on this forum, and I am thrilled to see that it is 1) high qualitiy from the get go and 2) branching out in style from what most of the other works here are. I eagerly await more. keep it up
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Letum



Joined: 20 Oct 2006
Posts: 149

PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John has a problem. Despite being a highly successful merchant and lender (the one profession having provided to funds to take up the other), his finances are suffering. “Honest John,” he is called. The people of the area know him for his straightforward manner and his dedication to being a fair businessman. His prices are always modest; for especially expensive things, like steel-headed plows, he would go so far as to give out loans and let them be paid back over time. It was this and many other things that had gained him the trust and respect of the rural community. With years of hard work, he had been able to pull himself up from his modest beginnings to this comparatively lofty position.

And now this. After all his honesty and integrity, he is being cheated. There are no less than ten accounts with payments that are late. He doesn’t know what to do. He had never been farther from home than Carter’s Crossing, a small commercial center some miles up the road where he had set up shop. He rode there early every morning on an old gray mare and returned home late each night by same. The thought of deviating from this path…well, it wasn’t a thought he had. If his clients wouldn’t come to him and pay, there is no way for him to go and talk to them. He couldn’t make them pay.

He sighs and closes his account books, placing them in the bottom right-hand drawer of his desk and locking it with a key. He blows out his lantern and exits the store, locking the back door as he leaves. Everything else has long since been secured. He saddles the mare, unties its tether, and climbs on. He will just have to hope that things work out. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t. He is an honest man, and honesty is the best policy. Yes, things will work out. He is feeling better already as the horse plods off down the dark road.



Knock knock. The Markses all stir. Mr. Marks is mostly awake already and climbing out of bed when another knock comes. Knock knock. It is a soft knock, not the kind of thing one expects to hear at a Godless hour of the morning. He lights a lantern, shading it so as to wake nobody, and moves to the door, wishing he kept some sort of weapon in the house. He had never expected trouble to come to him. Who would worry a poor farmer? There was hardly anything to steal. But then, if it were trouble, why would they knock? The door was flimsy; they could have burst in and slain everyone inside. He is still debating when the visitor speaks, his voice penetrating the door like a sharp instrument. “Open the door, Mr. Marks.”

In her bed, Mrs. Marks shivers. The youngest Marks, now two, whimpers in his sleep. The middle Markses, and there are quite a few of these, sleep uneasily. The eldest, Paul, wakes up. He turns to his father and begins to rise, but stops at a glance and a frantic hand gesture. He stays in bed, but keeps his eyes open. In this one-room hovel, he has an utterly unimpeded sightline to the door.

Mr. Marks opens the door. Behind it stands a man and a pair of eyes. Mr. Marks primarily notices the latter, and they notice him. They are fortified deep in the man’s face, and seem to be trying to pull Mr. Marks in with them. He knows this would be a bad idea, and braces himself against the doorframe with one hand. It is a useless gesture; even if he held on with all his strength, the thin carpentry would break and send him falling down into those bottomless eyes.

“Mr. Marks, I am here on behalf of one John Farson, from whom you have purchased a mule. This is far beyond you financial capabilities, but Mr. Farson in his kindness agreed to allow you to pay manageably small sums over an extended period of time. For two months now you have failed to make your payment. Why?”

Mr. Marks swallows nothing and begins to speak. “I—“

A noise makes itself heard, or rather, three noises that blend seamlessly. The first is a high-pitched keening, like the sort which some people hear when dog-whistles are used. The second is another of the visitor’s soft knocks. The third is a low-pitched humming that slowly decreases in volume. As the first two noises are short-lived, Mr. Marks decides to seek out the source of the third. He finds the origin to be a long knife that is imbedded in the floor perfectly between his feet. He can feel its vibrations through the thin soles of his shoes. He looks back up into those eyes.

“Don’t try to lie to me, Mr. Marks. I can tell before you even speak. I will tell you why you have not paid. Your expenses are too high. Speaking in terms of economics, you must either increase your income, or decrease your expenses. If you do not choose the former, I will assist you with the latter. You will resume your regular payments at the normal time of this month, and you will maintain them. When you make your payment, bring Mr. Farson the knife. Only he can keep it from me.”

There is a gust of air that blows out the lantern as the door swings shut with violent speed, slowing at the last moment to gently click closed.
Mr. Marks has to hitch the mule to the knife to get it out of his floor. It turns an ankle in the process. He and his eldest son take turns in the harness plowing the fields that week. Mr. Farson is very pleased when he resumes his payments the next month, even if they are not as regular as they used to be. When the toddler dies, he attends the funeral. They say the child grew ill. Mr. Farson wonders whether it were being fed enough, and secretly writes off much of the Marks’ debt from his books. He would hate to think he had had anything to do with it.
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Purple Steve



Joined: 21 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow, this is really nice writing, awesome work man Smile
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Letum



Joined: 20 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The sharp crack that rings out is not an unusual sound for the Farson home. Today it is Mrs. Farson, whose first name has long been lost, who is being disciplined. The blow practically sends her flying. She stumbles, falling across the table that is one of their few furnishings and scattering the dinner that was the subject of tonight’s talk. John, sixteen now, looks on with dead eyes. He has no love for his mother. She is not human enough to be loved. “Sometimes, wife, I am tempted to despair of ever teaching you a thing,” says John with only the slightest notes of sadness. “But I am a good and patient husband. We will keep this up as long as necessary until you improve yourself. Until such a time, however, there is the problem of what to do with this repulsive substance that you attempted to feed me. I think it is fitting that, as you created it, you will dispose of it.” With a hand he grips her around the neck, dragging her to the woodstove where a pot of stew boils, and shoves her head under. There is no struggle, and, puzzled, he lifts her back up. She continues to fail to support her own weight. He looks into her eyes. They are glazed. He feels more delicately around her throat. There is no pulse.

For a moment, John is terrified. There, holding his mother, is a stranger. It is a person, a very sad and tired person. How did he get into the house? What was he doing?! But in the next instant it is his father again, with a blank face and a flat voice. “Stay here.” He leaves, carrying the corpse of his wife in his arms and closing the door behind him. John tries the stew, ladling it from the pot. It is decent, but has hair in it. He decides to make a fresh batch.

In the morning his father returns, looking as unstoppable as ever. He has dark, wet earth beneath his fingernails. His wife is not with him. “Where has mother gone?” asks John. “She is in a better place,” replies his father. John knows this is not true. His mother is dead, and he knows personally that being dead is not better than being alive. Just barely. Shortly thereafter John the Elder goes on one of his monthly trips to market, taking with him a wagon of crops to trade. The exertions of the night before do not deter him from a day’s work. There is no room for luxury in his life, and if there were he would deny it. John Farson is no sloth.

When he returns again in the afternoon, he knows instinctively that his son has left the land again. He is sitting at the table waiting for his father when he walks in. Everything about him tells John that he has been disobedient. He can also see that he intends to say something honest. He feels a brief pride for his son that withers and dies in his stony heart. He says to his son, “Speak.”

“You lied, father.”

Suddenly John feels nervous, an emotion that, like all its predecessors, does not survive long within him. “Where have you been today?” he demands.

“The blacksmith,” answers John, and drives his dagger deep between his father’s ribs.

With blood running from him, Farson contemplates what he has wrought. How fast his son had been to kill his father! How honest, how just! He truly is proud, and wants to say so to his son, but already he has run out of time.

John puts his father in the place where liars go. He has to use a long tree limb and a rock to shift the boulder. His father is a powerful man.
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Alec



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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to admit, I got a bit confused in the first paragraph where you were talking from John's perspective and listening to John talking about beating his wife, but I am really liking this story.
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Letum



Joined: 20 Oct 2006
Posts: 149

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I summon the powers of artistic license to defend me!

...The ambiguity is an intentional stylistic quirk with the purpose of...
Actually, I think I won't tell you until after the last part.

The only thing better than artistic license is artistic license working in tandem with procrastination. Hellz yeah.
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Heloly



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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wait... Which John is Honest John? Are they all different people? STOP NAMING EVERYONE JOHN!
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