08 February 2010

Vernon Story Tweets – January 2010

"I could've written that," Vernon thought as he closed Kerouac's "On the Road" and laid it on the side table. "Born in the wrong era." That's what he thought whenever he read anything written by the Beat writers.

For more than two decades, Vernon submitted short stories and novellas to publishers. He had the stack of rejection letters to prove it. It's not that he didn't enjoy the Beat writers. It's just that what they wrote was so simple, so direct, so fun.

Vernon sneered at his dog-eared copy of "On The Road." "Kerouac. He couldn't write his way out of a paper bag." He picked up the book in one hand and bowed it in the middle. "I was born in the wrong era."

A knock at the door startled Vernon. The pages of the book shuffled like a deck of cards before falling to the floor. He looked at the door as though it were a loaded gun pointed at his head. No one he knew ever visited him at his 12x12 studio. In San Francisco, you could never use enough caution when it came to answering your door. "Where's a peephole when you need one?"

The knock came again, a little louder this time. Vernon recoiled slightly, a sense of dread creeping up from his gut. "Who is it?" He heard no response and called out a little louder. Whoever stood on the other side of the door rapped harder and with more urgency.

Vernon moved to the door and pressed his ear against the flimsy wood. Cartoon noises resonated from someone's TV down the hall. The loudest knock yet boomed into his ear drum. He jumped back. His heart leapt. Stars ushered in a blinding whiteness. As the whiteness consumed him, Vernon saw his door burst open and a dark figure step through, reaching out for him.

* * *

"Ding ding. Ding ding." Vernon's eyes fluttered open. His apartment floorboards vibrated a little less as the trolley passed outside. Bright morning light filtered through his window, splashing across his eyes and obscuring his view. "How long have I been out?"

The lighting hinted at a morning hour. He blinked until his ceiling came into focus. Gone were the peeling flecks of paint. The slide-whistle call of someone slipping on a banana peel blasted through the wall, the same cartoon that was playing before his fall. The animated funnies now came from next door, the sounds of the program so clear Vernon felt like a blind man watching TV.

"What the hell you doing in here, boy?" The voice, a rich blend deep south and inner city Chicago, lunged at Vernon. A dark fist clutched his shirt and lifted him from the ground. A sweet burning scent danced over the hulking man's shoulders. "Don't make ax you again." The menace of the man's voice shook Vernon to his core.

Vernon stammered and looked around the room. His vision started to clear and all around him came into focus. The stranger pinned him against the wall by his throat. Vernon couldn't explain his presence even if knew.

The man's nostrils flared and his eyes opened wide. He released his grip on Vernon's neck and dashed for the black cloud of burned grits. Vernon grabbed the door handle, jerking the door open to make his great escape. He hadn't counted on the slide chain lock. Before he could slide the chain free, the angry man slammed him against the wall and stuck a blade in his face.

Then the angry contortions of the man's face twisted into that of confusion. He slowly turned his head toward, then back again. He squared his face with Vernon's, one eyebrow obtusely raised. They both turned their gaze back to the firmly locked slide chain.

The boi-oi-oing of someone stepping on a rake and getting smacked in the face came from the television next door. The man lowered the blade ever-so-slowly and loosened his grip on Vernon.

This is a monthly compilation of tweets posted throughout the month of January 2010. Want to read along? Follow me on Twitter @kylestich.

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