It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy trying to get my first novel done before November so I can participate in NaNoWriMo. Yesterday, I completed the first draft of my first novel just in time. Now, I’m working on my second novel. It’s basically a story about a man who lives next to a house where lots of artists die. Anyway, I know it’s only day one, but I’m right on track to meet my goal of sixty-thousand words at 2k done today. I didn’t want to post everything, but here’s some of what I’ve written so far:
As often as he could, Francisco sat on the porch smoking a cigar. He found the most time to smoke in the early morning. Gurkhas and Liga Privadas were the only cigars he smoked. Francisco’s husband, Thomas, would sit with him at times, but only after noon. Francisco enjoyed the cool, East-coast breezes that swept through just after sunrise. Nine months out of the year, Thomas was uncomfortable. After so many decades of forcing himself to sit in the wind, he decided stopped. His opinion was that there were better ways for him to spend time with his husband.
Francisco agreed with Thomas that there were better ways for the pair to enjoy their days together. For many long years, they worked together at the small grocery store that they owned in town. The only store around for miles, it was a very successful business venture. Now, they were old, though. A young man, Xavier, worked there for the majority of the time Thomas and Francisco did. Xavier ended up investing some of his pay in the store. He became part owner and took over the entire operation when Francisco retired. Thomas worked the counter for a handful of years after his husband lost interest in it. Eventually, he decided it would be best for his health if he didn’t stand still at the cash register all day.
Thomas and Francisco both loved spending time in their home. It was a large plot of land. There were so many trees that their gardener, Maggie, always said the forest would swallow the whole property one day. Thomas designed the house himself, with a bit of aid from an architect he attended university with. The couple’s dinner guests would regularly get lost on their way from the living room to the dining room. After several complaints, Francisco hung cleverly placed paintings that helped to point out the path. One of them was of a Russian writer with a stern expression, holding a quill pen in his outstretched arm. Another, a ballet dancer dancing with a swan, both facing the direction of the dining room door.
A massive porch wrapped around the entire house. Chairs sat around every corner. If Francisco wanted to sit in the sun in the winter, there was a chair. When he felt like overlooking the small pond next to the house, he could. Thomas preferred the front of the house, but rarely sat outside alone. In the early days, men would come to their house to threaten them. Many a pick-up truck sped by, tossing road kill at the couple as Thomas drank tea and Francisco smoked. The tranquility of the New England air was always interrupted by those frightening memories. Not long after the third Racoon landed on their steps, Thomas bought a shotgun.
Neither of them ever had to shoot the shotgun at anyone. They each took it out once, behind their house. Thomas shot a pumpkin and Francisco didn’t hit anything. Word must have got out about their purchase, according to Francisco, because once they had the gun, the taunts only came from teenage boys. The boys would end up coming into their store a few days later to apologize. Xavier often remarked on how funny it was that the grown men, who likely owned guns as well, were so afraid of the cheap, wooden twelve-gauge. Francisco would argue, saying it was intimidating. He would say that grown men know the difference between a toy and a gun, but boys do not. There were a few good years, after purchasing the gun, that neither Thomas, nor Francisco, had anything to worry about. Then, all of the sudden, their quiet life became full of hissing static.
Their neighbor, known to them only as Joe, lived in his house since the end of World War Two. His wife died the year before Thomas and Francisco moved to town. For the entire time that they lived next to one another, Joe neither caused nor reported any problems. Not a sound came from his windows. After a while, he could be heard yelping in pain while working on some project in his garage. That phase only lasted a few months. He’d lost the hearing in one ear while fighting the Germans. Had a nasty scar all the way across his back. His wife, Ethel, was pampered for the rest of her life after they wed. After she died, Joe was only seen outside working in his yard. There was a beautiful garden that grew thanks to his efforts. Thomas and Francisco regularly found baskets of vegetables outside their front door. Anything that would grow, including things that weren’t supposed to grow that far north, Joe would share with them.
Eight years after Ethel died, Joe joined her in the afterlife. There was a large estate sale, where Francisco found an Italian tobacco pipe and a box of beautiful cigars. Shortly after Joe’s death, a new neighbor moved in. This man was an artist. He painted large pictures that people liked looking at. Thomas and Francisco spoke with Maggie in depth about how they didn’t understand why people liked looking at his paintings so much. They didn’t understand why he was driving an expensive convertible, having never worked a regular job. The first time they met, he introduced himself as Radwin Ali. He gifted the couple the painting of the Russian writer. Francisco hung it outside of the living room because it was the place that bothered Thomas the most.
“Do you really have to hang that ugly man on the most looked at wall in our house? This isn’t what I pictured seeing every time I lead our guests to the back of the house.”
“Thomas, it looks perfect in this light. There’s nowhere else in the whole house that this would look good. I know it’s dreadful, but it belongs right here.”
Francisco didn’t believe at all that the painting belonged on the wall where he hung it. He thought it was a good way to tease Thomas for years to come.
Radwin Ali invited the two of them to his house warming party, but they declined. He’d left the note in the same spot that Joe would leave his baskets of vegetables. Seeing the paint smeared envelope on the porch brought back a group of emotions that Francisco, who found it, didn’t want to feel.
The party was loud. In one form or another, it seemed to go on for a month. After it ended, another party took its place. Whether it was day or night, Radwin Ali kept a constant stream of visitors. The guests were all enamored by the isolation and colorful nature of the area. None of them failed to express their awe. A car would pull up next to one of the dozen others in Radwin Ali’s driveway, then someone would let out a horrible shriek. Overnight guests of Thomas and Francisco were regularly awakened at odd hours by the screams. Their shock would subside when Radwin Ali shouted back.
“I know. Isn’t it extravagant?”
Things got to the point where if Thomas didn’t warn their guests of the disturbing activity, Francisco would. it became a strange habit that neither of them enjoyed forming. Many of their guests would announce that they’d changed their minds about staying the night upon hearing the warning. The couple became jealous that Radwin Ali could have all the guests in the world, and they could have none.
When he died, a torturous social weight was lifted from their shoulders. Thomas said he felt bad about how he reacted afterwards. Francisco called him a liar. Truthfully, they were both relieved that they were able to resume normal life. They began having their own guests over again. Those guests would stay the night. For years, no one asked about Radwin Ali’s death. It was a summer night, while the group was drinking a variety of Malbecs, that someone finally asked about it. Francisco was reluctant at first, but told the story as his friend persisted.
“Radwin Ali drove a fast car. It was a convertible. It was blue, with a tan top. He never took it to a mechanic. Obviously, he didn’t know how to work on it himself. The thing had a simple problem. Looked to me like the connector between the alternator and the headlights, or something of that nature. Every so often, his headlights would go dark.
When he drank at those infernal celebrations, he liked to take girls out for a drive. He’d go up and down the dirt road here to the east. I don’t think he lived here long enough to learn them well, because he’d ran his car into a ditch once before.
He took two girls out in his car one night and sped up and down the road, through the fields out there. I saw his headlights go out when they were still far away. Thomas says he thinks Radwin Ali lost track of where he was. I feel bad saying it, but it is kind of ironic, in a way. The man was famous for his paintings. That one you saw of the man with the pen in the hall on your way back here, he gave that to us. Anyway, he had the house painted white when he moved in. When he crashed that convertible into it, he and those poor girls were splattered all over the wall. We still can’t figure out how he didn’t go through the whole damn house, going that fast.”
“He had a lead foot, that’s for sure.” Thomas commented.
The dinner guests were so amazed by the story that they brought others to the house hear it. They’d tell Thomas and Francisco that they tried telling it, but didn’t do the tale justice. Neither of the men told anyone about the frantic pandemonium that had gone on.