Saturday, April 23, 2011

Winesburg, Ohio

This semester I have been up to my head with symbolism due to a nice little novel named Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. For those of you who have never heard of it, don't be ashamed (most people I talk to haven't either). The novel is pretty awesome though and, if there's ever a chance, take the time to read it.

The entire novel is a compilation of short stories that detail the depth behind being a "grotesque"--someone who takes a truth for his/herself and remakes it in his/her image--as well as the coming of age of the central character, George Willard. For a bildungsroman, the novel is pretty great, although definitely not at the level of A Clockwork Orange.

Nevertheless, for my class' final assignment my fellow English 112 classmates and I were assigned to create our own stories to mimic Sherwood Anderson and, ideally, create a mock-novel like Winesburg, Ohio. My story is slightly larger than the rest of my classmates' but I'm happy with the fact that I created a full thought with my piece. Whether or not the story is good or not is for you, the reader, to decide.


Fate Walks. Insanity Drives Itself.
Her name was Nicole Rogers. At first glance, one might assume that she had always been as crazy as she was on the night when this story takes place, but nothing could be further from the truth. In her mid twenties, the five-foot seven, brunette, working woman prided herself on her looks and as someone that would do anything to keep her husband happy. She had dreams of one day becoming an actress—of being someone—although those dreams never would amount to more than front page news in the local newspaper.
Night had cast its cloak of obscurity over the world, a shade which unwittingly matched the color of the asphalt Nicole drove her car upon. Rain had made Interstate 112 hazardous at best, but luckily no other car could be found on the road at such late a time of night. With twice the luck, for the other drivers, Nicole swerved safely in and out of her lane as if alcohol had been part of the general equation. In fact, she hadn’t touched any alcohol in months, but another hazard, something more introverted, forced her driving abilities into a poor state. For the obscurity caused by the downpour outside the car was no match for the waterfall of tears cascading from Nicole’s two, clear blue eyes.
“Who does he think he is?” she posed a tearful query to the empty air which would forever fail to be answered. “Who does he think he is, bringing that…that…that FLOOZY home? The home where he had held me through the times when we couldn’t even afford the clothes we wore. The place where he told me that everything was going to get better if I’d just wait it out and not leave.” Leather on the steering wheel groaned as Nicole’s grip tightened at the new memory rushing into her mind. “The bed where our children were conceived.” Taking one hand from the wheel, she wiped tears from her eyes and breathed in through her nose, causing the dripping mucus to race back up her nostrils.
All the anger she once held suddenly turned to sadness as she thought about the past night’s events. Her sobbing worsened into a hysterical fit, causing the car to become more irrational in its movements. Drifting too far to the left, the tires of the car rolled over the small, florescent bumps near the edge of the median which had been placed there to catch sleepers at the wheel. The harshness of the bumps brought Nicole’s attention back to her driving and, with a sharp turn of the wheel, the car immediately turned back into her lane. A small thud faded into the air as something in the back seat hit the right car door.
“How will he keep his promises now? How will everything be okay?!” She sucked up another noseful of mucus as a low groan pervaded the air from the backseat. “How will our children be okay after THIS?! Without a father… Tell me, HOW WILL THE CHILDREN BE OKAY?!”
Another groan hit the air as a man who went by the nickname of “Roy” awakened in the backseat of Nicole’s car. Assessing the situation with his newly opened eyes, the man wriggled in the seat like a fish out of water as he came to realize the restraints which tightly bound his wrists to his ankles. A dirty sock taped over his mouth prevented him from screaming out, but he attempted regardless. Nicole, fading deeper into hysterics, laughed at his muffled attempt to cry for help.
“Struggle all you want, you dirty fool!” she yelled at Roy without turning around. “You’re bound by your own sins, there’s no escape from such bindings.” An almost inaudible thud entered the air as Roy accomplished spitting out his gag onto the car floor.
“ARE YOU CRAZY?!?” Roy screeched. Nicole began to cry harder, both her hands gripping the steering wheel tightly as her blurred eyes stared out the windshield.
“Is that any way to talk to a mother?”
“Shut up, just SHUT UP!” Nicole turned the steering wheel sharply, causing the car to swerve hard to the right and Roy’s head to slam hard against the car door. An uninterrupted groan shot from his mouth into the hostile environment. Turning the wheel sharply in the opposite direction, Nicole evened out the car’s directionality once more. With crazed eyes, she gazed forward at the lights of a city in the distance. “Why can’t you just accept having only me?” she whimpered. “Why must you break my heart?”
“Listen lady, I have no clue who you are. Just drop me off, I haven’t even seen your face. I can’t identify you to anyone.”
“Shut up…”
“Please,” he pleaded, “just listen to reason.”
“Shut up…”
“What did I ever do to you?!”
“I said SHUT UP!” Nicole screeched as she turned the steering wheel abruptly with an even greater force and turning it back before she ran out of road. Roy’s head collided harshly with the car door once more, this time causing the door to fly open. A spray of water from the combined sources of the rain and the road made him blind. Loudly, he loosened a harsh scream to reveal his pain and agony to the outside world.
Nicole’s right foot pressed down harder on the gas pedal, forcing the car to accelerate. In the background, Roy’s screams continue, coupled with insults directed toward Nicole. However, the lights in the distance and each memory which sped through her mind forced her to become introverted completely and uncaring of the person whom now dragged against the asphalt only a few feet behind her.
“Maybe,” she whispered to herself, “everything will be fine after all.” Once more, she pulled a hand away from the steering wheel, this time she reached under her seat. The lights of the city were approaching quickly. Other cars could be seen ahead. From beneath her seat, she pulled out a colt .45 revolver. “Everything will be okay if I want it to be.” 


            “Are you sure?” Nicole asked the doctor, tears dripping down her face. “Maybe you made a mistake. Or…or…” The doctor shook his head. Her words could not change fate. After some small advice from the doctor and some cheering up, she placed a fake smile upon her face and headed out of the doctor’s office for her small car parked in the lot half a block away.
The day had been humid and cloudy. However, as she drove down Interstate 112 in the direction of her modest home, a few small drops sprinkled onto her windshield. Until the drops had accumulated enough to impair her vision, the thought hadn’t come to her to turn on the windshield wipers. “First my boss fires me for being pregnant…then falling in the parking lot makes me lose the baby… What is god going to take from me next?” Even as she asked the question, warm tears were beginning to form behind her eyes.
Fifteen minutes of driving had brought her back to her small home, where she and her husband, Jeffrey, lived a happy marriage—whenever Jeffrey decided to not drink too much. As she sat parked in the driveway of the house she contemplated the revolver below her seat as a solution. Suicide wouldn’t make her problems go away or force away the tears such bad news had forced upon her. Shaking her head, she attempted to throw off the bad memories. “No, no I can’t let Jeffrey see me cry. He hates it when I cry…” With a shaking hand, the last tears were wiped away and she climbed out of the car, car keys in hand.
Often was the door to their house left open, but as Nicole opened the door and entered the house, she could feel that somehow this time was different. After placing the keys in a tray next to the door she made her way to the bedroom where Jeffrey could usually be found napping until dinner. Each soft thud that her feet made against the carpeted floor echoed in her mind for reasons never to be explained. Time was slowing down before her innocent eyes as she placed her hand upon the doorknob to the bedroom door and opened the door wide.
White light from the bedroom’s ceiling lamp hit her eyes in a shocking burst, momentarily blinding her as she adjusted to the new sight. In front of her stood a king-sized bed whose coverings had been thrown to the floor in a mad fashion. On top of the mattress lied two men in their late twenties, both visibly naked except for the casual covering of the last remnants of the bed’s sheets which covered them.
Both of the men snored loudly in a deep slumber, but only one could she place a name upon. Only one was her mind fixated upon. Jeffrey had always seemed like the cheating type, but Nicole had hoped that the previous news of their child would delay any such action from occurring. Unfortunately, the sight confirmed that once more her assumptions about him were wrong.
Slowly her mind had begun to process the situation at hand. No, not solely that singular situation, but also the drunken nights when she would find herself the victim of the kind of man Jeffrey was; the past feelings of emptiness in her stomach when no nourishment found itself past Jeffrey’s greed; the many times when Jeffrey had told her in hushed tones how he loved her; the job she had just lost; the husband she had just lost; and finally the child which had been taken from her.
            A twisted smile appeared on the distressed woman’s expression as crystalline tears fell down the contours of her once-pretty face. The anger had begun to warp her, twist her, and make her uglier than the life which had birthed such a demon.
I know what to do, she thought as she quietly crept out of the room for her car. In her demonic state of mind she had remembered the emergency kit she kept in the trunk of her car. In the kit were various minor objects that would have aided her if the car would ever break down unexpectedly. The items of her obsession though were solely the roll of duct tape in the front pocket, the coil of nylon rope (meant for towing) in the center pocket, and the box cutter also in a front compartment. With a small, twisted smile and trembling hands she grabbed her three items and quickly returned to her house, to the bedroom. Doubt no longer caused her agony. In fact, her new psychosis wouldn’t allow her to feel much of anything besides the wrath which poisoned her mind.
When she returned to the bedroom, the two men were still snoring like the dogs she knew them to be. Opening the pocket knife, she cut the nylon rope into five long increments. These increments she laid out smoothly, neatly, on the floor of the bedroom. I won’t use these on him, she thought. I still love him…I couldn’t make him suffer so much…
Taking the nylon ropes in her hand, she bound the wrists of the second man tightly to his ankles. (Surprisingly, the man never showed the slightest sign of awakening from his slumber.) After she had securely bound his limbs together, she picked one of Jeffrey’s dirty socks off of the floor (which she proceeded to force into the man’s mouth), ripped off a piece of tape, and made a make-shift gag.
To Jeffrey, however, no such fate was allotted. After all, Nicole didn’t want to see her lover suffer. The box cutter assured her that neither she nor he would have to suffer through his actions ever again.


            On a cool summer day, Jeffrey Rogers sat with his drinking buddy, Ronald “Roy” Williams, in his living room. On most days, both would sit around with a bottle of whiskey between them, telling jokes and stories while they got plastered enough to forget their lower-middle class life style. Neither of the men was very strong or overly masculine, but the liquor tended to force them to think otherwise.
This day was something new. Jeffrey had discovered that he was about to be a father only two weeks before and had made a new resolution to become a better man for both his wife and his child. Talking back and forth, the men discussed the fortunate news and Jeffrey’s new lease on life.
“I’m behind ya, buddy. All the way!” Roy exclaimed, smiling about his friend’s new attitude.
“Thanks man, I’m gonna need all the help I can get to shake off the sauce,” Jeffrey responded with a small laugh. The day was serene and the mark of a new era in Jeffrey’s life. Unfortunately, fate walks in the strangest of ways for men who have spent too much time driving the wickedest tracks in life.
Two tall, muscular men barged through the front door in skin-tight, black body suits and ski masks over their faces which only revealed their dark eyes and twisted smiles. Both Jeffrey and Roy jumped back in shock as both intruders pulled guns from their back pockets and pointed them directly at the shocked men.
“What do you want?!” both the shocked men screamed in unison.
“All we want is to introduce a bit of anarchy to the equation. Eh, John?” the man furthest to the right asked his partner with a growing grin.
“Damn straight, Willace,” the two men laughed heartily as their prey looked at them with confusion. With a blast of air, both the guns shot off tranquilizer darts which caused both of the scared men to go limp within seconds. “C’mon John, let’s have some fun with these idiots.” The man named John smiled, revealing a row of rotted teeth, before stepping forth and grabbing the two unconscious men and carrying them off into the direction of the master bedroom.

Fate drives me.

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