I have said before that ROAD KILL started out as a long form story when I was a kid and have talked about my obsession with re-writing it after it was lost.
Flash ahead a couple decades and I finally get back to writing it again and I started and stopped several times as I figured out how I wanted to tell this story. I happened across this the other day while going through files and didn’t even remember writing. I like this because it shows how different the story was when I first started re-telling it. Thus you have the alternate opening for my novel ROAD KILL.
What might have been.
Needless to say the story/book is different than this beginning but it’s interesting to see what I was thinking when I frst started it.
Road Kill is out now and is a dark novel of truth, curses, and revenge.
ROAD KILL ALTERNATE OPENING
And it was love at first sight, the things these two shared. Love as true and red and dark as any romantic love but with a sharper edge and a blade that cut both ways. It was love, black and brutal, and it was a bond that formed into a noose. For two seventeen year old boys standing on the water’s edge and looking out towards the vast ocean of adulthood they were exactly what one another needed, and the very last thing they should have had.
Bubba wasn’t his real name. Not is real-real name. No. His real name was Thomas Andrew Diem but granddaddy had called him Bubba as soon as he saw the twelve pound baby and so Bubba he was. He didn’t feel like a Bubba but then he didn’t feel like a Thomas either. For his first twelve years he was just ‘Tilling’s Son’, his daddy owning the largest hardware store in town and then the large auto salvage yard that sat between Munsonville and Flatston Falls and then he owned the used car lot as well and well, for a small town like this, that was big news. At twelve Thomas became Bubba for one and all. At twelve he was no longer just ‘Tilling’s Son’, Tilling with that horrible car of his, all chrome and flash and given an unholy name. Bubba. At twelve he was just Bubba because anyone that would dip a dog’s tail in gasoline and then light it before smacking the animal’s behind so that ran in fiery circles could only have one name, and that was the one his granddaddy had given him. The dog lived, barely, it’s tail gone and it’s back legs bare and crippled, but it lived and by god it would continue to live. Tilling saw to that. Against the wishes of the vet in Flatston Falls, against the cries of some people in the community, and against common sense that dog would live. His son, his boy wouldn’t be known as a murderer, not as long as Tilling drew breath. The dog lived. Tilling bought it from the family who had owned it and he treated that three year old Collie as if it was his best friend, and over time it became just that, though it never quite trusted Bubba. And when he was asked why he did it, why he hurt that poor dog in the first place Bubba put his hand to his chin like his old man would, he closed his eyes for a moment, then he looked at the town’s lone police officer and the three parents who had put the dog out and he nodded to himself and he told them –
“That old boy just looked cold is all. There’s a terrible chill today and I thought that might warm him up. That’s all I was doing. Just trying to warm the old boy up.”
Bubba smiled then, satisfied with himself and then his face lit up like fire with a hard slap from Mr. Cobb, the next door neighbor to the family who owned the dog. Bubba’s smile dropped and something cold ran over Mr. Cobb when the boy looked at him in that moment, something that stuck with him for years until enough ‘accidents’ and ‘mishaps’ and ‘oopsies’ told him he needed to leave town and for good. Bubba’s smile slowly crawled back and he shrugged.
“That’s OK Mr. Cobb. I understand. Some people, they just don’t like the heat.”