Sunday, December 29, 2013

Our Lives in Ruin (Preview)

CONTEXT: Joey works at a movie theater in a truck stop town. Franklin is the stranger he's met, the one who makes his sad little life okay again. But is he just another form of self-harm for Joey? This scene is of them breaking into Joey's place of employment after hours. Franklin knows too much about the layout, and the movie starts with no projectionist running the machine. What follows is one of the most intense scenes I have ever written.


We walk past my apartment instead of stopping at it, and I breathe a sigh of relief. Our footprints cross flashing red light intersections until we’re standing in front of the theater where I work.

“You’ve got a key, I assume,” Franklin says.

I stare at him. “We can’t just walk in the front door after it’s closed.”

He smiles and starts walking, and I have to follow him. We go around the building into the alley behind it. “The key works on the basement door,” he tells me.

Down the stairs at the back of the building, below street level, I put the key in the door and turn it. The door opens. “I never realized that,” I told him.

He pushes the door open and grabs my hand, pulling me in. I close the door behind us and reach for a light switch, but he grabs my hand. “You don’t turn on the lights after you break into a building, Joey.”

We move down the hallway quickly. It’s like Franklin knows the layout down here in the basement, and soon we’re up the back stairs and into the rear exit corridor. The emergency lights illuminate ghosts in hallways until we get to the auditorium. I’ve never been here this far after hours.

“The movie’s about to start,” Franklin says. He pulls me by the hand into one of the rows of seats and we sit down. “What do you want to watch?” I look over at him, and he smiles in the glow of the emergency lights, his eyes liquid black again.

Before I can say anything, I hear the flicking of the projector and the auditorium is lit by the beam coming from the back of the room, painting the screen at the front a pale white. I look at him again, and he’s looking at the screen. Between us, I feel his hand around my wrist, his fingers moving to find my pulse. His hands are like electricity. I want to tell him to cut me open. That’s weird, I know.

His hand moves to my hand, and suddenly, all the light in the room goes out. It’s so quiet, I can hear my heart beating. I hear Franklin shifting in his seat, pulling my hand to his body, pulling up his shirt and pressing my hand against his chest. There ought to have been a heart pounding there, too. I can feel his breath against my neck and earlobe, and I’m terrified. I want to pull away and run. I want to curl into fetal position and cry, but his voice is soft in my ear, his hand holding mine to his chest.

“Are you afraid?” he wants to know. I close my eyes against the darkness, and I feel his mouth on my neck. Oh my God, his teeth are sharp.

“Yes,” I tell him, but my voice is inaudible over my own heartbeat.

LIKE THIS PREVIEW? Our Lives in Ruin comes out in ebook format on January 13th and print format on January 20th. There will be discounts, events, fireworks, Gatsby parties, and I will become Oprah for exactly one minute starting the second the ebook comes out, and lasting well over a month. You shall buy it, because it is only one dollar. It is only one burrito. It is only one bottle of cheap soda. Trust me, for the level of work I put in this story for you, it is worth the dollar. I promise.

No comments:

Post a Comment