Snowcase #17 • 17 August 2007 • The SnowBlog
Keith Latch read his first novel, The Voice of the Night by Dean Koontz, at age twelve. Thus began his love affair with things that go bump in the night. He has submitted his novel, entitled BEST-SELLER, to the Snowcase.
Rob Caulder has wanted to be a writer his entire life, but now he's learning: It's deadly at the top. A stab of pain shot through him, from one temple to the other. Rob clamped his hands to his head at the ferocious and abrupt attack. When it subsided, the characters on the screen were dancing, moving almost as ants on bare earth. Suddenly the pieces fit. Rob stood. "My father, he--"
"Crashed his motorcycle on a rainy September morning. Helmets weren't the law then, and he didn't wear one. Was in a coma for two weeks. When he finally woke. He said it was like living a never ending nightmare. For months, he slipped closer and closer to insanity.
The Travel Inn Motor Lodge sat squat beside a four-lane highway. It was late evening, the lights of passing traffic blurring into rays of white and red. The smell of gasoline and diesel drifted far and wide.
He was in Iowa or Idaho, or maybe it was Michigan. He really didn't know anymore. More to the point, he didn't really care. A palm full of cash had dissuaded the desk clerk from asking too many questions. That was a good thing.
The key to his room, 23, was attached to a wide odd-shaped piece of green plastic. The door creaked as he pushed open the door. It was an obscenely ugly room. The carpet was a burnt orange, the drapes a sickly dark green. But the overhead light worked when he flipped the switch. The bed was made and looked all too inviting.
Before settling in, he went to his car for his bags. One was a green duffel bag, the kind the military issued. But he was not an army man, nor would he ever be. The ritual that such a life entailed nauseated him. The other wasn't truly a bag, but a case.
Once back in the room, he removed items from the bag. A bottle of Jack Daniels. A small, tattered notebook, spiral-bound with a black, fading cover. A .38 Smith & Wesson revolver all loaded and ready to go.
There was a television in the room, but he did not turn it on. His mind was full, it could hold no more. Beside the bed on a small, cheaply made table were a phone and alarm clock radio. Neither distraction appealed to him. There was not one person in the world that he wanted to talk to. And on the radio there would be nothing but the Bee Gees or some other mindless, stifling disco crap or worse, maybe even punk rock.
He grabbed a glass from the sink area, rinsed the dust from it and poured it half full with liquor.
Hed never been much of a drinker. Had never developed neither the taste nor the stomach for it.
Still, he drained the glass before placing the hard black guitar case on the bed. It wasn't all that bad, really. He flipped open the fasteners and pulled out the instrument. The guitar had been a recent purchase while abroad. A 1978 Les Paul EG500. The color scheme was Cherryburst and it was about the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen in the world.
But the six-string was not a source of pride or of awe for him. It was simply a tool. A way of release.
He cradled the guitar, the base over a knee and the fingerboard held lightly, almost lovingly in his left hand. He didn't use a pick; instead he pulled a shiny dime out of his pocket. Automatically his left hand hit a chord and he strummed the dime over the strings. The guitar made a metallic clanging sound, nothing like it would if hooked to an amplifier.
Author: [Keith Latch]
Email: [ keith [at] keithlatch [dot] com]
Website: [ http://www.keithlatch.com]