Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Time to Rub


And now, an excerpt from John Grisham's best-selling legal thriller, "A Time to Rub":
Attorney Thomas Troy's office was nothing more than a cramped, decrepid shotgun house, crouched on the shore of the biggest mudhole in Rickets County. Most of the windows had been busted out years ago. In the spring Troy's clients would wordlessly sidestep the thousands of tiny frogs that bustled over the rotting floorboards. But by late summer the Mississippi sun would boil all the water out of the air, and so Troy and his penniless -- yet saintly -- customers would conduct their business while covered in swarms of mosquitoes and fire ants.

On a Saturday afternoon in September, Troy sat alone in his office, resting his feet on the back of an alligator that had wandered in. The weatherbeaten old radio on his desk crackled intermittently. The announcer's sleepy drawl abruptly shifted from his reading of the latest on hog futures into an announcement of a jailbreak. Troy sensed something horrible. Huge gobs of sweat dripped from his forehead. The moisture sizzled into vapor when it plopped onto his desk. His eyes throbbed. "Am I gonna do it?" he asked himself. "Hell yeah," he answered. He remembered the old man who had given him the ring. "The Fly Man", the kids had called him. A dirty, bent vagrant who always appeared in town in time for the Sugar Beet Festival and who always disappeared again before the Halloween Parade. The other children stayed far away the Fly Man. Troy had always been more curious than most. One day he had followed the Fly Man for the better part of an afternoon, from the tire fire on the north edge of town, all the way down the railroad tracks to an abandoned piano crate in the middle of the woods. It was in the crate that the old man gave him the ring.

"Rub it," Troy said to nobody. "Rubbing it will make things better." After taking one last look through the window, Troy slumped down in his chair and thrust his hand down his pants...


Stephen R. said...

"Rub it," Troy said to nobody. "Rubbing it will make things better."

Now those are some words to live by!

And you should know that my upstairs neighbor HATES when I read your posts because the witch-like cackle that comes from my mouth when I'm laughing uncontrollably just ain't pretty. at all.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

So he has to rub it? And it's in his pants?

Who'd've thought that Grishom was so skeezey.

Anonymous said...

The sequel mini-series by Brad Meltzer figures out who the Old Man really was (after an explicit child molestation scene in the piano crate) by introducing and clearing random characters from the Archie Universe and finally, in the last pages, deciding to go with Moose. Because he's insane, you see.

Jeremy Rizza said...

Stephen: I'm guess I'm lucky my own laugh just sounds like Muttley from the "Wacky Races" cartoon.

Jon: Admittedly, I may have taken a turn into Faulkner Territory.

Anonymous: Freakin' Meltzer!

Dave said...

Just as a thought experiment, here's a few attempts to re-vitalize the (justly) maligned "Mighty Crusaders":

Fly-Man and Fly-Girl: Shove Fly-Man in the fridge post-haste. Fly-Girl is a maid who finds the magic ring cleaning out the deceased Fly-Man's apartment. Hilarity ensues as Fly-Girl briefly flirts with a life of crime before going straight and taking Fly-Man's legacy.

The Shield: The basic idea of a terminally jobless patriotic super-hero is, actually, quite brilliant. (There are some wonderful opportunities to do social commentary based on how the U.S. government has historically treated vets.) The easiest way to handle him would be as a cross between The Badger and The Fighting American -- he's a gibbering, PTSD ridden wreck who can barely hold a job or function in society and has been on Welfare since World War II, dealing out fisty justice to crude caricatures of "Red State" bogeymen.

The Web: An UFO researcher actually makes contact with aliens -- who draft him into their galactic police force. He has access to an interplanetary information network ("The Web"), with all sorts of neat information about aliens and advanced technologies -- but he's limited to what he can build using modern-day Earth tech. His main job is investigating crime involving aliens before Earth governments show up to screw everything up...

The Comet: A telekinetic human modified to withstand hard vacuum from the 25th century, sent back in time after an unfortunate accident with an interstellar jump gate. Very much a "fish out of water" -- our attitudes, customs, and languages are very, very hard for him to understand, and the attitudes in his era are... distressing to our modern sensibilities. (Eugenics is good! What does this "freedom" signify? etc.)

The Hangman: A veteran super-hero, exposed to a crude longevity gas due to a "meteor strike"; has been active since the 1900's. The bad news? He started his career working closely with the KKK. Times have changed, but the Hangman hasn't -- and he's now one of the most public super-villains. Has contacted the (very, very nasty) aliens who sent the original "meteor" that gave him his powers...

I don't know -- the Archie super-heroes do have potential. They just haven't really gotten any love, have they?

Jeremy Rizza said...

Wow, those are pretty darned awesome! The nice part is, since they're Archie characters, you don't have to worry about a rabid fanbase screaming their fat heads off about "violating the core concepts" of the characters.