Monday, June 18, 2012

The Field Jacket

Somewhere last night on the drive home from work I spanned the stretch of midnight and my writers mind turned to the dark complexities of The Field Jacket manuscript I have been working on since I was 11 years old.

I love this story. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE it.  I am not just saying this because I wrote it. When I reread it I get lost in it, its just a compelling story.

I want to share some of it with you.

I will warn my sensative readers its a darkly distubing romp inside the mind of a young soldier. I the "F" word makes you cringe this isn't the story for you.

Since I am dumping you in the middle of the book I will introduce you to the three main voices.

Dean the soldier - His story is aligned to the left.
Father - His story is aligned to the center.
Author - Their story is aligned to the right.

The "author" is a characture in the book...and doesn't represent me.

I think I want to lead into this with some of the reviews this book has gotten from some of the people who have previewed it. Then you can decide if you want to read on.

"Wow, that's some mindfuck story, completed or not." DR Feb 2001.

""You say at the end of your notes on the TFJ that you know the story. That you wrote it first. Do you know it? I think you do. Better: I am left with the idea that you lived it!!!!! Paradox!!!!" HRP 2000.

"You are a mean mean woman, hurry up and finish the damn thing!" JKM 1996.

"I get dibs on playing Dean when they made it into a movie." MM 1981.

"See me after class" My English teacher 1976.

The Field Jacket

By PR - all rights reserved (C) 1976-2000

"Never trust anyone who is not up to anything, they is the ones plotting all sorts of things." 

I angryly bobbed my head. Crazy old man, his trolley had slipped its track. I won't let him have the satisfaction of haunting me. In the cool air my fathers words find the frost from my breath to cling to. My nose sanded from wiping it across the frozen sleeve of the field jacket drips bloodly snot. Who would have thought the Swiss of people would suddenly strike out and in a few brillent stratigic moves have control of Europe. I was thankful when the cold saw fit to numb my hands. At last I couldn't pull the trigger of the gun that propped my bundled frame up .

"CHRRist " I heard my father mutter under his egg salad breath. "FRRiggin' woossy... Bad as you damn mother... cold will only get you if your weak"

I shift my eyes skyward and marvel at the clean slate of blackness void of starlite. Where is this place?

Authors note:
Lightning flashes. Thunder presses on my chest. Sweet warm rain washes the blood from my face. Lighting flashes...PHOOM...the laughter wells and pours from my mouth. I can take no more... the tape in my mental projector spins loose and flaps around the spool CLICK...BUZZ...WHIR...

The winter wind moaned in endless agony as it painfully dragged itself over the desolate valley. with in my numbed mind the pitiful howling of my tortured spirit kept my eyelids from closing and concealing what I saw. On its own accord my rifle slid off my shoulder and collasped against the uneven side of the fox hole. Brubaker lay at my feet with his eighteen year old intestines spilt clumsily onto his lap. He cradled them in his arms with the fragil awe of a new father. I felt my body pulling me down closer to the heat rising from him. I wanted to warm my hands on the last of his life. Brubaker's head rolled to the left and in the twilight I watched as darkness poured from his mouth. Behind me I heard the familiar windchime of dogtags approaching.

Authors note:
In my mind I wander endless circles, hampster on a wheel I spin and spin...Oh some nights the roar of the madness is too great, I feel the darkness pulling and tugging at my soul. Are normal people haunted to the edges of their sanity by snatches of stories that scratch and howl in their attempt to he heard? The pull of The Field Jacket is strong. The story has a strangle hold on my subconcious, sleepless nights ... the images so strong, so vial, so very hard for an eleven year old to understand. I put the images down on paper, and for a while the gods were appeased
but now they clamor "tell us more".

Marching us in endless circles with the infernal scuffing of boots on concrete, wrasping out a distantly familiar tune. He stopped our line by pointing his pistol at my head. My frozen face, weary and drawn out, only allowed me to respond with a guttural "Do it". I closed my eyes and felt them burrowing deeper into skull. The tiny ice crystles cut my face as they fell from the sky. The canvas field jacket flapped like an old circus tent as I fanned my arms out, I know why the lion roars at the fear...nothing he can inflict could equal the psychosis that being wrapped in steel bars...the sting of the whip is not felt...

The cocking hammer and the sound of the rotating pistol barrel brought the guard back into focus. My outstreached arms are suddenly heavy, I curl one of them to my hip.
"I'm a little tea pot, short and stout here is my..."
His pistol butt swung and sent my record needle skipping.
"... tip me over..." I rose up on one knee and looked up at him as the blood finally exited my frozen nostrel. "and pour me out.."
"Enough!" Sargent Tiomo screamed

Authors note:
Lightning flashes. Chaos reigns supreme. The full moon's light amplifing my mental turmoil and casting a shadow as dark as a glistening pool of blood. I can hear the sounds of my sanity leaving its tracks and I can feel my body lurch as I cross into a different awareness. Piano cords pounding. The rhythm brings tears. I use sleep as an escape and so the madness speads its dark gospel to the unknowing.

Wearily I drop against the muddy ground and nuzzle it until it comforms to my head. I can take no more my mental projector tape runs out and flaps around the spool.

"There there" Mama croons pulling me closer. I melt into her ample warmth and surrender... I surrender.
She rolls me over and wipes the mud from my face with the hem of the rough field jacket. "Quintana?" she inquires.

I find it ironic that angels speak swiss. My laughter disolves into tears as I clutch onto her arms and let the pull of the blackness sweep me away. I writhe in agony fighting the images that flickered in quick succession through my mind. Anjaline, my sister. Her pale eyes trying to pull me closer. I fight the haunting void of nothingness that separated her hand from mine. Try as I might I can not reach her. Our finger tips softly brushing each time I reached for her. I scream to drown out the chocking sound she made as the water rose and swirled her beautiful hair around her like a halo.

Phoom flashes

Again I see Anjaline. She is riding on fathers shoulders pointing to the holes she dug in the freshly tilled earth only yesterday. She is crying because over night, ground water seeped in and made her holes into tiny puddles.

Father laughes his insidious laugh and tells her " Create a hole Anjaline, and SOMETHING will fill it." flashes

Our cabin, pirched on lava rocks over looking the Sycan Marsh. Father raised us there. That bastard lied to us. Crazy old man. I survived inspite of you.Twisting I feel his hands burn into my neck. I struggle, christ will I ever be free from you?!

My beautiful Swiss angel pulls me from the clutches of the dreamtime. She draws back the collar of the field jacket and grimaces in sympathy pain. Reaching up I realize that as I wrestled the night memories the stiff canvas had sandpapered my neck into a pulpy mess.

Over my shoulder I heard Johan's wispy voice comment " That's some ring around the collar ya got thar Dean."

I cast him a glare. "where are we?"

His voice cracks " Doesn't matter we ain't out there."

Wanting a second opinon I pull myself up and stiffly limp down the narrow hall and open the door that is painted with pictures of Swiss fairy tale charactures. The night air greats me and tousles my hair. For a moment I shift my eyes skyward. I choose to return inside, Johan was right it didn't matter. Somewhere out there the war was lurking, playing hide and seek in the blackness.

Authors note:
What could be so vial a force to creep into a mans sanity and gnaw a hole, allowing the liquid madness to seep in and jell, its destructive tendrels flaying out to take root like a cancer? 

She set the bowel of potato chunks swimming in a spicy gravy between Johan and me. From behind her skirt a small round face peaked. She spoke swiftly with her musical voice and the some how familiar face smiled and held out two drumsticks carefully clutched in her dirty hands. Where has I seen this face before? Anjaline?

"Thank you little one." I smiled. At the sound of voice she dropped the chicken and bolted from the room. With a chuckle her mother retrieved the meat and set it on the edge of the table and left us to our meal.
As I carefully stripped each tiny bit of meat off of the bone I suddenly eyed Johan's skinny arm as he used it to cradle his head as he chewed slowly. The long muscles in his transparent arm jumped like piano wires in a silent symphony...just how long would it take to adjust to consuming human flesh?

Authors note:
I have always had questions about the night. like were does it begin and where does it end. Is night just darkness and if so is it night when we close our eyes? I feel a circle coming round, destiny arching forcing time and space to connect with events set into play years before. A circle...a line which forms empty space into a hole. Create a hole and SOMETHING will fill it. This patterned into us from birth, a basic knowledge we are born with. Pucker little lips into a pink bow on chubby cheeks, then open wide and wail your hunger into the air. Mama plugs in a warm nipple. The void you created has been filled.

Our rescuer brought us breakfast and Sargent Tiomo. He laughs cruely as if he enjoys the irony of the situation. As I stare into his face I see the echo of his image pearing out from behind her mothers skirt. " Are we having a bad day gentlemen?"

Johan drops his head onto the table and sobs noisely.

Tiomo...his face stamped from an ancient mold, non-descipt, no distingishing characturistics. Even staring at him you could not descibe him, his image left no impression on your retina. A living vampire, visually void of reflection.

Tiomo...Tiomo...Why do I feel the need to prove myself to you? Prove I can be a rough son of a bitch and take your crap. You can not take my mind away I will not let you...I"ll rebel I''ll...oh my god...father? is that you?
"Dean god damn it!" Tiomo bellows " When I'm talking you are to listen! You fools think you know it all! Wipe that smug look off you face, I know what you all are! Just god damned lost little boys! Your fathers being killed in Vietnam created a hole and you were raised by stepfathers...a generation lost...WHO is raising YOUR sons while you are here killing my sons?" He rocked back and laughed like some b-rated actor trying to sound insane.

He rocked back and laughed "You know I'm gonna be right about this boy...I'm always right its the law of nature" My fathers theory, a challenge between us for a life time. My goal to prove him wrong, his to always be right. "If you create a hole SOMETHING will fill it. I'll say it a thousand times boy, because its true."

 "crazy old man" I mutter under my breath.

Sargent Tiomo's hands break open the scabs around my neck as he chokes me to my senses. "You will learn respect! Or you will not leave my country alive!"

Authors note:
I am spinning endless three-sixties in my mind. I cannot write today, mind disengaged from hand. My soul a tumbler filed with snatches of nothing, empty promises, like dryer lint, collecting together to form some strange fabric...oh shit is this sanity? Where has mother madness gone? She has left me here on the sandy shores of sanity to bloat and wither like seaweed. I put The Field Jacket away. It is nothing but jumbled scraps of paper with fleeting images on it like the quick scenes one views in the seconds of illumination after lighting flashes. The madness has been lulled to sleep by the rolling waves of depression. I bid it goodnight. 

Sargent Tiomo let go of my neck and shoved me to the floor. I layed there playing dead. I heard him slap Johan, ordering him to shut up. When I saw him reach for his pistol I scrambled to my feet and brought my fist down on his arm. The deceptively soft "Pop" of the gun was followed by the screeching wail of Johan. I stood and watched the blood rythmically well and spill from the single hole in his neck. The fear in his eyes clutched me and pulled me towards him. Weakly his arms flailed with the coordination of a new baby. His head rolled down and covered the hidious hole.

"Damn it  stick yer finger in there!" Father hollered "She'll bleed out before the vet gits here!" Father knelt on her head while I inserted my finger into the bloody fountain spewing from my bay mares neck. She would die anyway. The day he buried her I ran away. I wasn't going to stand there over her grave and have him lean over and whisper "See son, create a hole..." I wouldn't give that crazy bastard the satisfaction. 

Authors note:
...where have I gone?
The story fizzles out, spent. The rough draft pages lay in crumpled heaps around my feet like spent cartridges. At last the monster is apeased. All the staps on my straight jacket are cinched up snuggly. I can sleep. I know the end of the story. I wrote it first. I know what will fill the hole in Dean's feild jacket... FUCK! 
Frantically I scroll the curser upwards, my eyes flashing left right, oh please be there, be there, be there, be there...the windsheild wipers on the ambulance keep time with my head as it rolls to and fro, NO! do not lose your train of thought, stay focused, if it is not there you will have to go back, and put it in, you'll have to go back and put it in, oh god! I'll have to create a hole in the story to put it in, what if it doesn't fill the hole completely? 


So what do you all think? Want to hear more? This is the big project I want to do this September when the kids return/go to school. I will have a couple of hours to sit and gel and find that inner voice again and create the void within that summons up this delicious mental madness. To climb back inside the field jacket and wrestle it from my mind and in-prison it on paper.

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