The cut

 The cut was a story that just arrived, with no prior thought to it nor planning, written in just a couple days, more or less.  All I can think of, as to where it came from, was that it was during playoffs, my own son was currently playing and ideas, such as what it’s like to be the coach’s son had been on my mind – tied somewhere in there to being forced to do something you don’t like, though, that was not the case on that particular team.

There are moments where a clarity falls. Moments where a simple observation brings a rush of memory, a rush of feelings that were left behind – a reminder of the fears of what laid ahead, a fear of the consequences for the choices made: A moment where everything experienced distills and brings awareness to the present, greater understanding of all that is occurring and un-equivocating knowledge of what is held most dear. Those moments strike disconcert; humility that lay one bare, that fall as hard as a heavy punch to the gut.

I also vaguely recall a listing for an apartment next door to Louisiana Creole, and found the prospect of living at that location amusing – thinking about how odd it would be to walk out at that location, opening a steel door onto that sidewalk – hoping no one was walking past as you did. That’s probably where the first chapter came from, but the story was a whole lot more by the time that was finished. There are a lot of little moments from my history tied to that intersection.

It was intended to be a one-off, short story, but I found the ideas and characters compelling and frequently toyed with how a story, told as it was, could be told moving forward without seeming cloyingly formulaic. That led to Fen Grass, though, that was intended as a segue, meant to be a brief interlude to the chance opportunity fortuitously presented to Marcus.  How he and the other character got to that opportunity was where Fen Grass came from, however, it took a left turn as it was being written, being that I disliked the direction. Where the cut considers neglect, the forces that knocked Eddie off track were more vile and violent:  Themes and codas were all that connected the stories – two completely different sets of characters and places.

L&M is the third related story, and walks completely away from the formula of the original, even losing the codas that were all that – sort of – tied the first two stories together. Rather than the third book in the series, it’s more of a – long – sequel to Fen Grass; a continuation. There are some echoes to the idea of codas – their idea being what kept the first two books related – but they are subtle, and the little bit of time-warping, magical fantasy are more grounded to realism.

The cut is an epiphany, a character feeling an observation of his behavior far more severely than really necessary, because of his experiences when young – it considers the psychological impact and consequences of parental behavior. It’s an homage to my children who have taught me what it means to be a parent, who have made me such a better person as a consequence.

New Old Cover Working Draft

Fen is something else, that considers the responsibility to act when there is knowledge of  abuse, that considers the reticence to intervene – the incapacity to know how. As with the fallout from one revelation of institutional abuse to the next, Logan sees fault with the response and lays condemnation. Yet, a blind eye turned walks away failing to act, knowing acting often ends up failing. Or, making things worse.

L&M moves on from the Fen, looking to how the characters move on from what they experienced. Marcus is back, if only briefly, sharing what he knows and has experienced, himself, to help propel those introduced in Fen towards a positive future.

The decision was made within a moment, one governed by the limitations of experience and the forces therein – one that changed all of them, yet still one that remained the focus going forward: A moment that was irrelevant. A moment best left forgotten to the past – the past, best left forgotten.

As if it would.

The past stood as the future for the woman that had stood next to Logan since the moment. It was where he went while taking walks in Paradise – reflecting back. It was where amends were needed. It meant the conversation he avoided. It meant facing those he’d left behind:

To be left behind. To understand a moment that could not be understood, to watch a pillar fall that was infallible. To understand – how it could happen: It was not expected. It fell as betrayal, yet feeling it betrayal resounded selfish. To enumerate events and observations to bring clarity to what occurred.

As if it would.

Success stood upon the moment as an outlet Muriel had seized upon to comprehend, to understand exactly what went wrong.  It became more complicated, the deeper that it grew, and in the end – was it worth it? The past was always present but it could be that the past was only that: Gone.

Logan and Muriel look to the future while trying to move on from the past and leave it where it stood.

As if it would.

And then it did:

At the end of the day, the moral of the story is – don’t write a sequel. Installment – whatever. That is specifically, and literally the moral of this story, because it fell so far off track. The Cut is a nice, succinct and wonderful story of devotion – of mine, and Marcus Marchant’s – and it should have just been left at that.  But the characters were inspiring.  Not only Marcus, but Mikal, and especially Dierdre.  Even Riley – named in homage of my cranky golden retriever who passed away several years ago.

Unfortunately, in my effort to wrap a narrative in a form that was similar, in a way that would resonate, I wrote myself all the way up north, and wound up lost in the woods on a snowmobile path. But it happened, and so it is.

But the whole point of the bloody thing was to get to the point of the final installment, where the success Eddie finds finally tickles out a last hurrah for Marcus: A shitty team going nowhere gives the old man a chance, to keep their breakout rookie happy so he’ll sign a long-term contract, end of season. So Marcus gets a seat on the bench and loves it for all its worth. And then, Eddie waffles, end of season. Dickhead move, Eddie, real dickhead move.

Front cover

The opportunity was originally planned to come much sooner. When i finally decided i wanted to change the narrative, i knew it was getting pushed back. At the moment i made the decision, i’d written L&M. I then sketched out story lines for every character with the promise to visit every one of them, though it was only two that pulled the story where it went. They’ve monopolized attention. The other’s stories slipped in as we followed them, and this final book brings in their threads a little more.

This one sat on the shelf for more than a year, largely written but something always missing. Actually, a lot was missing. Even the title. It stayed, “The Spoon,” the entire time it was written because I had no idea what would make sense of it, just like i’ve struggled with the totality of what i wrote for the whole of this series: Covers sucked, titles sucked, descriptions sucked. I feel like the stories very much do not suck – though, they suck. 

But what has come to be pretentiously entitled Rise from the muddy waters, is the perfectly imperfect end (probably) to what this became. Settled, finally, when i added the concluding chapter in the middle of November of 2021. I kept thinking that needed to be in there to finalize all of it, and finally it just popped together. Even got me a title. 

Anyway, since this was the point of going down that long and winding road, in the first place, here lies the conclusion to this story, and the last sequel, multiple installment story ever to be written.

Though, there’s a lot to work with in ten-five-six. And Family Man – it’s screaming for a second, third and fourth: What’s going on with that whole program, anyway? I think the old cop’s more curious than ever. And Incident? We never even got the chance to spend much time with Lottie, and Atti – that guys got a lot to share: Very interesting character…