Friday, January 29, 2010

The Woods

Billy Parker is famous tonight. And not just because his shots at the state police helicopter ruptured the fuel tank and forced an emergency landing, though that feat makes him mighty proud. His daddy tried to teach him to hunt deer, but it was always Billy's four brothers who brought down the bucks at the end of the day.  

Lookie now, daddy, he thought as he stopped to rest against a tree in the Virginia woods, hands gripping the high powered rifle, listening intently. I finally bagged me something big.

What brings Billy notoriety this cold winter evening are the five bodies back at the house.

It was Wade from the gas station who found them earlier when he came by for their weekly cards and booze. He ran out to the yard, crying and spewing his dinner, before he drove to the neighboring farm for help. When Sheriff Walker arrived, Wade grabbed his arm and told him the Parkers are dead except Billy because “his body ain't lying in there.” The Sheriff nodded.

The other teenagers down at the Piggly Wiggly once told him, “Billy's not been right in the head since his mama passed.” Since then he always thought something awful would happen. There were too many nights he was called in to stop the drunken beatings. Yes, he worried about the boy.

The manhunt tracked Billy to his present location, a rural area thick with trees that gave way to large clearings. He knew he had a final decision to make since he could hear the hounds and see flashes of light. It was harder before, when the jumbled voices in his head cajoled too fast and too loud, and were of no help. But a few minutes ago, they ceased their shouts and whispered their goodbyes.

They'll come back, dammit, he said out loud. They always do.

His pursuers arrived. Billy stood up and walked away from the tree in calm and unavoidable surrender.

54 comments:

  1. For some reason this called to mind an episode of X-Files where the boy runs out into the woods amidst the baying of search hounds. Manhunt. Bodies. Oooh Thriller-killer. Totally loved it.

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  2. Intense. I was expecting him to shoot himself, so the ending was a superb twist. Nice the way you built empathy for a psychotic killer. Peace, Lidna

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  3. He sure did bag something big but I bet his daddy regretted teaching him how to use that rifle! A well-told tale of a lost soul...very sad actually.

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  4. I think this hits home because it feels so real. Good details and I'm always a sucker for the mentally unbalanced. Nicely done :)

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  5. Great telling leaving me wanting more. Vivid in description and character feel.
    -David G Shrock

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  6. I like the matter of fact way you tell everything. It's so clear and every word is to the point. Great, great job.

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  7. more like in cold blood to me..wow

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  8. Very chilling because it is so real. There have been stories in the new like this. It reads like a real account - you always seem to get inside the characters so well!

    Great story, Marisa!

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  9. The voices in the head finally saying goodbye, but Billy not trusting their departure was the perfect detail for the reader to empathize. Showing a sane moment inside an insane hint--I liked that.

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  10. Gripping! Excellent stuff.

    I guess poor Billy had done the main thing the voices wanted him to do - get rid of dad and siblings - and was quite happy to surrender!

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  11. Awesome! Love the opening. You really hooked me.

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  12. I agree that this is so REAL. The details, the ways of relating/speaking. I lived at the foot of the Appalachians for a while and could picture a couple of my friends coming down and relating a story like this (from the details, etc., not b/c of this type of violence being prevalent, although it's more so than it should be). I agree with Linda about the nice way you built empathy for a psychotic killer! All of it, gripping. Very nice job!!!

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  13. Great voice Marisa. Dispassionate on the surface, but seething with feeling beneath.

    marc nash

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  14. The way you wrote it I can't help feeling sorry for him. Nice twist at the end, with him not killing himself. Great flow to this. Loved it!

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  15. This was intense - having lived in the Virginia woods, it was like I was THERE. So well done, and without extra unnecessary bits. You could literally go on forever with this moment, but you encapsulated it perfectly.

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  16. I was sure he saved the last bullet for himself, but I'm glad he didn't. Such a sad, disturbed life told with sharp intensity and insight. ~ Olivia

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  17. Never ceases to amaze me that good writing can make you empathise with an unbalanced killer! Great surprise at the end!

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  18. Intense from start to finish. You’ve packed quite a punch in so few words.

    As others have suggested, this does have a “real” feel to it.

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  19. The first line was a killer. Who doesn't want to know why Billy Parker is famous? Thanks for sharing.

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  20. Good characterization in this one. Very good story!

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  21. So realistic. You had me from the first line and I thought you handled the change in dialect between the narrator and Billy's voice masterfully. "Lookie now, daddy" Creepy!

    Very well written!

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  22. As others have said, realistic. Can smell the gunpowder

    Good stuff

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  23. Kind of strange but interesting.
    I had trouble keeping up with the changing POV.

    When the voices in your head tell you to do something, you do it! :)

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  24. I liked the juxtaposition of Billie's memories of not bagging the deer, and what he's done now. Nice taut writing

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  25. Is it wrong that I laughed a couple of times reading this? It's very sad, but somehow you made it humorous here and there - masterful work Marisa! Love the voice.

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  26. I really like this piece. Creepy and atmospheric, I love the sympathy towards your protagonist. nice job!

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  27. I know it's easy to say, but you really did pack in so much into a very short piece. gave us Billy's backstory, what he did, how we was discovered and how he became famous tonight. and to then make it such an entertaining read is very impressive.

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  28. Awesome. What more can I say. Loved the voice, loved everything.

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  29. Expertly written with careful precision.

    The mystery builds up well with gradually increasing tension and avoids falling into melodrama.

    Can we here more about the goings on at the Piggly Wiggly sometime?

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  30. This seems ripped from the headlines, it's so authentic. Especially Billy's voice. I do believe you nailed this characterization. I didn't real feel sorry for him, though. I was kindof hoping he would shoot himself in the end. Well told!

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  31. There is something about your writing voice that has a real lilt to it - the little reading voice in my head sounds American. Seeing as I am most definitely British, that's a surprise to me and real compliment to you!

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  32. Mel Morton7:14 PM

    I loved the voice in this, particularly, 'I finally bagged me something big.'

    The Piggly Wiggly is such a fantastic name too!

    Really enjoyed reading this and could really imagine the whole scene. Great!

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  33. Like a shot of whiskey, good stuff.

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  34. Love the fact he didn't die in the end. Chilling and realistic. Great piece.

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  35. Billy Parker isn't someone I'd care to meet. Good job.

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  36. I was also thinking X-Files while reading, very interesting way of making us feel sorry for a killer :)

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  37. Great pacing. Very intense. I was expecting a different ending. But this one leaves room to hope he gets some help.

    Great job!

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  38. In spite of his insanity, it seems to me he wanted to stay alive so he could get "credit" for what he had done ... very creepy!

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  39. Very, very powerful. Thanks for sharing it.

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  40. I enjoyed this story very much. I too was expecting him to go out in a blaze of glory, or to shoot himself. Hopefully the fact he didn't means there may be a sequel to this story, right?

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  41. Cracking opening, with a great use of narrative style to hint at the diction and voice of the character. Good stuff.

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  42. Those voices make mine look like the Golden Girls, most of the time.
    Very nice writing with a good finish.

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  43. It astonishes me you have all these stories in your head. I can barely scrape up my novel ideas??

    Good stuff, Marisa!

    Corra

    from the desk of a writer

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  44. An unexpected ending. After the violence, I thought it would end in violence, too.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  45. At first I was a bit confused with the helicopter reference, but the explanation and the story's development totally hooked me. Great one Marisa! :)

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  46. This is so funny in the truest sense that humor almost always comes from some kind of hurt. In a sick way, I'm kinda glad he finally bested his brothers.

    Thanks for visiting my blog today. Yours is terrific and I'll be back.

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  47. Very interesting. Surprised at the end. I like the way you've written this piece. Also, I love you're Our of Order Alice heading/description. It made me want to come in and check things out.

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  48. I want to read the rest of the book that is attached to this post! Excellent!

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  49. Wow, great writing. Intense. It hooked me from the get go.

    Thanks, too, for your nice comments at Ronda's place. Appreciate that. Looking forward to more of your work.

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  50. Wow, this is a well-told story! I like the hunting references. I half-thought you were going t use the hunting metaphor during his capture -- maybe have him hit by a sniper rifle... But the ending you chose keeps the humanity and sadness much more in the forefront.

    Very nice!

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  51. Nice! I agree with Carrie - XFiles vibes :)

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