View Full Version : Help Me Decide: 1st Person or...

11-28-2010, 12:38 AM
Each chapter of my planned novel will feature the thoughts of one character - similar to "As I Lay Dying" by Faulkner or "Living Dead Girl" by Elizabeth Scott. Below are the first 3 chapters (short), which is all I've written so far. You'll notice I've not written in 1st person. And that's where I want your opinions. Should I write this story in 1st person? Would 1st person make the story more interesting/personal? Or is it fine the way it is? Your opinions would be wonderful. Oh, this is a first draft. Feel free to critique, however.


CHAPTER 1 – Stone Walker

Sweat trickled across Stone’s forehead - produced partially by the August heat and humidity, partially by spooked nerves. He lifted the baseball cap, raked a calloused hand through his damp hair and returned the cap to his head.

Though unaccustomed to luxury, Stone Walker knew extravagance when he saw it. Big houses. Manicured lawns. Shiny, new cars. The smell of freshly mowed grass rode the waves of a light breeze beneath the sky’s twinkling canopy. From the well-lit streets, he could tell the residents in the neighborhood didn’t have a care in the world. How could they? They were rich. He was not.

No one would mistake Stone for a model citizen, but he didn’t consider himself a crook either. From his perspective, he was a victim.

Without a doubt, life had been hard. His father drank heavily before and after spending time in the Mississippi penitentiary. A speed freak, dad tried to break into a pharmacy to satisfy his habit. A silent alarm alerted police. After his release from Parchman, Mom died of an accidental overdose. Some said it was no accident.

If growing up in a dysfunctional family wasn’t enough, education was not to be his way out. He quit school after the tenth grade placing the blame squarely on his teacher’s shoulders. To pass biology, he needed a score of 72 on the final exam. He got a 68.

Bitch wouldn’t give me a lousy four points, he complained.

Work wasn’t panning out either. Twice, warehousing firms fired him for failing routine drug tests. Long stretches of unemployment led to past due notices and annoying phone calls. For a while, he managed to avoid the landlord, but eventually he came home to find his belongs on the street.

That’s when he found a small cabin in the woods – an uninhabitable two-room hunter’s cottage on 13 acres. No electricity. Leaky roof. But Stone had called it home for nearly three month. As far as he knew, no one had come by to check on the property. For all intents and purposes, the cabin was abandoned by the landowner.

With his thirty-second birthday hot on his heels, he felt the world closing in and old friends bailing out. Something had to change. Altering his lifestyle never entered the equation.
Tonight was the night he got a do-over – a chance to regain control of his affairs.

Unfortunately, life’s experiences had not properly prepared him for his premeditated adventure. He was a newby. Yet the only fear that sent chills down his spine was the distinct possibility of coming face to face with a warm revolver. He was willing to take the chance. What did he have to lose?

Cloaked in the shadows wearing a black Ozzy Ozborn concert T-shirt and faded denim jeans, he stepped up on the porch and moved as lightly as his 6’3”, 200-pound frame would permit.

Clinching his jaw, he walked on tiptoes hoping the leather heels of his shoes wouldn’t accidentally scrape the concrete and alert the homeowners of his presence. Three steps later, he was at the front door.

With a gloved hand wrapped around the door handle, he gave the brass knob a twist, pressed a shoulder to the door and pushed. To his surprise, the door opened without a sound. Even the hinges didn’t squeak. He waited for an alarm. No piercing siren was forthcoming.

My lucky day, Stone thought as he peered into a dark vestibule. A dim nightlight plugged into an electrical socket spread enough light across the room for him to see fine furniture and a big screen television.

So kind of the nice family to leave their front door unlocked, he thought. None of the neighbors treated me so good.

Earlier in the evening, when the streetlights came on, he cased the neighborhood. Observing. Waiting for residents to switch off interior lights signaling bedtime. He allotted a few more minutes for the sandman to descend.

Stone knew the other neighbors’ had locked their doors. He had tried them all before finding the prize behind door number seven – the seventh house on Brighton Street in Olive Branch, Mississippi, a suburb of Memphis.

With his eyes adjusting to the small nightlight throwing dim illumination from behind a table, Stone noticed the foyer’s expensive blue slate flooring. Perhaps it was green. In the dim light, he wasn’t sure. All he cared about was the treasure awaiting his discovery inside.

He leaned across the threshold and listened for noises. All was silent – no one stirring in the adjoining rooms or upstairs. In the quietness, he slipped inside and left the door ajar should an unfortunate encounter necessitate a hasty exit.

Beyond the foyer, a staircase ascended to the right. Halfway up, the stairs turned ninety-degree to the left.

By the time he reached the landing at the top, he remembered the stocking in the pocket of his jeans. Removing his gloves and baseball cap, he pulled the nylon over his head, which pressed his nose flat, a nuisance he hadn’t anticipated. Stone wasn’t a career burglar. How was he to know about such discomforts?

Stone’s thievery consisted of occasional convenience store shoplifting – meager rations of Vienna sausages, crackers and a Budweiser if the cashier was distracted by other customers. Otherwise, he’d rip open the package of a Honey Bun, devour it and drop an empty wrapper on the floor.

Standing in a dim pool of light cast by another nightlight, he bent over to pick up his cap and gloves. That’s when he heard a click.

Noticing the bedroom door swing open to his immediate left, he looked up in time to see the baseball bat bearing down. A protective arm went up, a defensive reflex, and deflected the brunt of the blow. The arm would turn various shades of black and blue, but he knew bruises came with the territory, a small price to pay for a big reward.

Stone’s good hand grabbed the man wielding the bat and separated him from his weapon. Swinging the homeowner against the banister, he pushed with every ounce of his considerable strength and sent him tumbling over the railing and down the stairs where he landed with a heavy thud on the carpeted concrete slab.

With not as much as a moan coming from below, he turned and started in the direction of muffled gasps and whimpers.

CHAPTER 2 – Elizabeth Fitzgerald

Elizabeth Fitzgerald heard the intruder coming up the stairs and awakened her husband from a deep sleep. She was impressed at how quickly he sensed the danger, rolled from bed and retrieved the baseball bat he kept leaning just inside the door of his closet. If only he’d relented and bought a shotgun, she thought.

When the door opened, she saw the hulking figure and the ensuing struggle. He was much bigger than her husband, Dan, and she feared the confrontation might not end well for him. The element of surprise was supposed to work to his advantage. In the soft glow of the nightlight, the intruder made quick work of him.

She didn’t remember sliding from beneath the covers, but the next thing she knew she was knelling on all fours, pressing her face against the mattress. When she heard a loud thud at the bottom of the stairs, her intention was to remain calm, but a loud gasp escaped her throat followed by a series of uncontrollable whimpers. She knew someone had gone over the banister. Heard the crash.

The silhouette appearing at her bedroom door did not belong to Dan. She could see and hear the intruder as his hand grappled the wall for a light switch.

Just as bright light splashed across the bedroom, she ducked behind the mattress, a hunter green wall at her back.

“Come out. I see you,” he said. His voice sounded calm, as though breaking and entering was a daily occurrence. Elizabeth assumed her husband was at the very least incapacitated. No sounds came from the bottom of the stairs.

With her patch of blonde hair and pair of blue eyes peering from behind the bed, she watched him swagger into the room, baseball bat in hand.

He pulled the nylon from his face and tossed it in the corner of the room. The hard lines on his forehead and around his mouth softened. A gleam appeared in his eyes as though he’d found an unexpected present and couldn’t wait to open it.

Elizabeth noticed the baseball bat and something else. His arm and hand appeared red and swollen. At least my husband got one good lick on this son of a bitch, she thought.
With his free hand, he reached into the pocket of his jeans and retrieved an object. When he opened it, the silver blade glistened in the incandescent light.

Give him points for dexterity. The bastard wielded a bat with a bruised arm, opened a knife and never cut his lustful eyes away from me, she observed.

With her husband incapacitated and possibly dead, her daughter’s safety popped to the forefront of her mind. Whatever happened next, she resolved to act and react in a way that did not endanger Lydia. For this reason, she rose from her hiding place and stood beside the bed fidgeting with her hands. Yet a calm resolve spread across her face.

Without speaking, he motioned with his knife as his eyes panned to her chest. She understood his intent and started with the top button of her silk nightshirt. Then the second. On the fourth button, the shirt parted enough to reveal a full beast. Pressing the last button between her thumb and index finger, she leaned to the side enough to allow the shirt to slip from her shoulder and fall to the floor. A thin feminine arm pressed across her chest. She knew the bikini panties would serve only to stoke the fires of his imagination.

While she fidgeted, he transferred the knife to his mouth where his teeth held the weapon in place freeing a hand to unbuckle and unzip.

After a nod from the intruder, she placed a knee on the mattress and climbed onto the bed. He watched while she wiggled free of her panties.

Taking the knife from his teeth, he laid it on a bedside table careful to push it far from her reach. After his jeans and boxers hit the floor, he laid the bat aside and climbed on top.

Elizabeth had never set eyes on the man. All she noticed was that when he removed the stocking, his looks did not appreciably improve. At this point, her intent was to let him get his jollies as quickly as possible and hope he moved on without further bloodshed to her or Lydia. She didn’t like the idea of submitting, but her choices were limited. Escape was virtually impossible. Since his arrival, he had occupied the space between her and the bedroom door. Besides, how could she run and leave Lydia alone with a burglar, rapist and God knows what else?

With his business complete, he pulled his pants on, straddled his victim, grabbed the knife and pressed the point of the blade to Elizabeth’s throat.

“You have one chance to tell me the God’s honest truth,” he said. “Where do you keep the valuables?”

His rough voice sounded convincing.

“Jewelry is in the box on the dresser behind you.” The stuttered words strained from her mouth. A smile curled on his lips as if he heard the instructions clearly.

“What else you got?”

“The only cash in the house is in my purse.”

“Where’s that?”

She nodded at a chair in the opposite corner of the bedroom.

He glanced over and saw the brown leather satchel.

Riffling through the wallet, he pulled sixty-three dollars, a credit card and a set of car keys and stuffed them into the pocket of his jeans. Then he calmly walked to the jewelry box and dumped the contents. After ogling the assortment, she saw him pick through a few expensive looking rings and gold chains and stuff them into the other pocket. The rest of the assortment remained scattered on the dresser.

Closing the blade, he returned the knife to his pocket. Next, he leaned over, picked up the baseball bat and climbed back on the bed. Straddling the naked young mother, a hand cupped her breast while his fingers pinched her erect nipple.

“You’ve been good. Real good. I’m gonna remember you.”

With a smile, he raised the bat over his head and slammed it into Elizabeth’s skull. Before succumbing to unconsciousness, Elizabeth heard a high-pitched screech emitting from the doorway. Her mind went black.

CHAPTER 3 – Lydia Fitzgerald

Ten-year-old Lydia Fitzgerald fled the bedroom door and high tailed it down the hall to her room. As she reached the door, she heard heavy footsteps chasing behind her. After the door closed, she engaged the lock, and then dove across the bed and stuffed her little body in the space between the wall and the chest of drawers.

Within seconds, she heard the intruder racing at full gallop. The crashing sound was unlike any violence she’d ever witnessed. The door splintered from its frame and nearly broke in half as it crashed to her bedroom floor.

Fear turned tears into full sobs and screams of hysteria. The intruder grabbed her by the arm and forced her to her feet. Resisting his retreat down the hall, she screamed at the top of her lungs as he pulled at her wrists. When he reached the stairs, he pulled the knife from his pants and spun her around. Placing a hand across her mouth from behind, he pressed the blade to her neck to the point of drawing blood.

“Stop the screaming or I’ll slice you up into little pieces.”

Tears continued down her checks, but she managed to reduce the screams to high-pitched shrieks muffled deep inside her gagged mouth.

The mean man twirled her about-face and looked her over. She saw him violate her mothers, and now she feared what he might do to her.

“Now listen to me,” he said, his eyes locked on her eyes – her eyes locked on the scar across his right cheek. “We’re going down the stairs and out the front door. You will not make a sound. Is that clear?”

Stepping over her father at the bottom of the stairs, the pair went out the front door. His firm grip squeezed the back of her neck forcing her to hunch her shoulders to bear the pain on her pressure points. They walked around the side of the house where he spotted a late model Toyota 4Runner in an open-air carport.

“Damn,” the intruder said after the 4Runner engine roared to life. His eyes clearly spotted something on the dashboard that upset him.

During the drive, he preached his first come to Jesus sermon.

“I don’t want you to worry. Your momma is gonna be alright.” She watched as his nervous eyes darted back and forth from her to the road. “She’s gonna be just fine as long as you do exactly as I say. You got that?”

Lydia grunted something that resembled an answer in the affirmative. In her mind, she wanted to answer correctly and not make matters worse, but deep inside, she wished she could put up a fight. Fearing for her mother’s life, she played along.

The 4Runner pulled up beside a fueling station.

“Now listen up because this here is real important. I’m going to pump some gas. Then I’m going inside the store and get you a treat for being such a good little girl. You will stay right there in your seat and wait for me. If I come back and can’t find you – well, that’s gonna be bad news for your momma. You get my drift, right?”

After filling the tank and paying cash, he returned from the store with a Slurpee and a bag of chips.

“Here. These are for you. I knew I could trust you. Now. Me and you. We’re are going for a little ride. Just the two of us.”

She took the drink and the chips.

“What are you supposed to say?”

“Thank you,” she said, but she knew her voice did not sound insincere.

A few miles out of town, he turned down a gravel road.