Monday, January 28, 2013

Cicada-Man: Chapter 9

            It took Mrs. Tolkien about a minute to remove her hands from her son’s back. The TV kept emitting a hazy blue over the edge-curling yoga mat in front of it. “So have they gotten back to you.”
            “Not since the report, no. They’ll call me.” David slumped into an orange recliner with a white tag still on it, and floated his gray jacket on top of him.
            “How’d you get back?” she asked softly.
            “Hid in the bathroom.”
            At the wobbling copper lamp upright against an inherited icebox, she knelt, “I knew this would be a bad idea. We’ll get you a new position, don’t worry.”
            “I could have stuck with it this time,” directed David to the dim dining room light ahead and away, as he rubbed his eyes. “It wasn’t all bad.”
            Mrs. Tolkien scratched her hood of hair. “You know Grandpa was in the minor leagues, right?”
            David nodded.
            “Well, he saw I was getting restless in the house, and Mom wanted peace and quiet again. We went to a big field so he could toss a ball.”
            With a head turn and little smile, David pointed out, “He didn’t even like T-stands back then.”
            “Right, right! So anyway, I was swinging away, and laughin’ at his little jokes, and he’s used to pitchin’ for dudes twice my size. I spent most of my afternoon in that stick car, crying and holding my nose. But I’ll never forget that he put his arm on me and said, ‘Well, was worth a try, ain’t it?’
            Now I did a lot of sports in high school, like you did, but never baseball. Yet I still got out of the house for one day, and I’m glad for it. So it was worth a try for you too, honey, and we’ll just try something new.”
            David brought his chin to collar and looked away.
            A chime echoed through the encased light.
            “Back again?” asked the shaved head above neon green and blue.

O1MEK8138 at l:38 AM May 25th, 2011
Say what you will about this guy, but he obviously has a genuine desire to improve his comnnunity aat least this is a private citizen wrokgin to help people and not some infefficeint and vloated government program THIS WORLD NEED MORE SUP HEROS

LANDSHARKCANTSTOP at 12:39 PM May 25th, 2011
This guy has issues, pure and simple. He's about as normal as Jake Brown in Harlem

Backinyoface33 at 9:46 PM May 25th, 2011
CCs got no life heard he wants to be called Cicadaman now or some shit. Saw some little fatsass trailing behind him. Mayne he wants a kiss ;)

            David closed the laptop with a snap, and could finally see ‘3:12’ in bright red between thick books. He stretched his neck back and groaned, hands on head. The greasy bag of sleeping aid was empty long ago, its crumbs still surrounding the clutter of passed-along articles on the desk, and he had cleared his browser history since at least around midnight. Yet vinegar-soaked eyes could still stare at the flopped jeans and shirt hanging over the chair. His pocketknife tight at hand, he remembered that before any of this, before May ended and a brown stranger fell before him, that David Tolkien wanted to die.
            He began hyperventilating and squeezing out relief tears. In the pile next to pass-alongs, there was a playbill of a distant friend, for a play that did discuss the ramifications of inhaling a plastic bag. He reached to the plastic 7-11 carrier as the heat from his belly faded, and dragged it over a pile of University of Illinois letters, topped by the last grade report he’ll ever see.
            He lifted his head and put it on faster than thought. It fluttered a rhythm, a little flap inside bouncing around. Already, his head was woozy.
            After a while, he began tapping his fingers, beginning to wonder if he would die or just kill more brain cells. He couldn’t see much from his phone now except a blinding blur. With palms out, he waited, still not falling asleep.
            Something in bright red shifted past his gaze. His stomach became tighter, and he dug his heels into the dry ripples of sheets. He closed his mouth and took in plastic, tightening sore joints just as his fingers reached the bag. His heart kept.
            Without thought, he threw the plastic bag to his side, convulsing. Now he could break into sobs, could lie on his hip and throw his sticky fists into his knees over and over. Still minutes later, he whispered, “I’ll do it.”
            There were 2 knocks below. He looked up: ‘3:15’. He tightened his eyes shut, and could see a dark ball of spikes in the midst of dancing colors. Rolling face-first on a dead pillow, he waited with churning stomach, thinking through fog. He only lifted his head minutes later, to a ‘plink!’ from ahead. Behind the thick glass within arm’s reach, there was a hole in the screening and stirring in the branches. He climbed over the bed’s smooth back and wrenched open a grating window to pick up a sharp white ball. The pebble inside quickly fell into David’s palm, and the unfolded paper read, “Your friend is not earlier.”
            David looked below. On the dirt path with stones jutting out, between ferns and thin plants dancing around one pine tree, a thin creature in trenchcoat stood before waving its arm rapidly.
            He quickly threw the jeans over him, one leg at a time, as he hopped down the carpeted stairs and unclicked the door before throwing it open.
            A rod arm was already in David’s face, pinching a small metal ball of blue. “Mr. Morality would like his money first, mister,” said the thin man.
            David took a glance upstairs first before attuning a damp t-shirt and stammering out, “I got home way after the banks closed, so, so could I have a trial period or something?”
            “One day. He will arrive soon.”
            “Hey,” David reached his hand out, “Any side effects I should know about?”
            “For this one, he won’t remove mask. Other than that, they tend to wear black.”
            Cicada-Man knocked gently on the door again. Shaking the dewdrops from his mop hair, David leaned towards the edge of the bush. The lanky man on the creaking porch shook his head rapidly a few times, then bent on one knee.
            David took deliberate steps towards his grey house, with pauses for each rustling of grass blade. One creamy car zoomed past him in a race against strong headlights. With so many clouds, everything was blue. He clutched the stiff ball with vibrating fists for each vibrating step, but halted at the bottom of glazed steps.

“…guard over them with every care and make their way easy and their labours fruitful. Dry their tears if they weep; sanctify their joys; raise their courage if they weaken; restore their hope if they lose heart, their health if they be ill, truth if they err, repentance if they fail.

Guardian Angel, watch over those whose names you can read in my heart. Guard over them with every care and make their way easy…”

            The first dirty shoe and creak on the step did not stop Cicada-Man’s lips, but paused David. He bit his own lip and gazed at the hunched lump in front of him as his legs began to melt. But with each prayer and gust of wind, David’s muscles tightened, and a chilled air shot his nostrils before he beat his legs up the stairs and slammed the ball into Cicada-Man’s prickly brown mask.
            Cicada-Man used his recoil to sweep at David’s leg, but could only twist on the ground as David stood firm with strained neck. The vigilante’s nose was turning purple from red.
            “David Tolkien, why-"

Copyright (C) 2013 by Nick Edinger


  1. I like the increasing tension of this chapter, and I think you could amp up the tension even further by paring down some of your prose. Lines like "At the wobbling copper lamp upright against an inherited icebox, she knelt" and "In the pile next to pass-alongs, there was a playbill of a distant friend" slow the flow because they are phrased too passively. While I do enjoy the level of detail you put into everything, try to write in active voice more.
    I'm anxious to hear whether David offers Cicada-Man any explanation for his apparent betrayal and how Cicada-Man will react. I also hope to find out exactly what Mr. Morality has against Cicada-Man and whether they have any history.

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