“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”
― Kurt Vonnegut
My malady isn’t really writer’s block. Much has been written. I have been working on a novel since at least October of 2019 and despite putting seventy thousand words into word processing, I appear to be no closer to finishing it than I was in 2019. Five different endings reside in a folder daring me to open and pick one…or create a new one.
I’m hoping by sharing this excerpt, I might regain my mojo. It is part of the beginning when I created Gideon Bates and Maudie Jenkins, the stars of my great American novel. I need all who read to feed my narcissism and make comments about how wonderful the beginning of the novel with the working title Jenkins Gap is…I can’t even settle on a title.
To set the scene, Gideon Bates’ is on the run and his motorcycle has broken down on a lonely country road leading to a small village named Jenkins Gap. Contemplating his few options, fate intercedes when Maudie Jenkins stops and lends a hand to save the day.
The sound of a distant rumble brought him out of his ruminations. An old pick-up pulling a trailer began to labor as it inched up the incline. A thin stream of gray-blue smoke followed the truck as did the rumble of a gutted muffler. Gideon felt his spirits rise but he had to keep them in check. Many people would not stop for anyone, much less a long-haired, somewhat scruffy, hippie type…. “At least I don’t look like a stereotypical Hell’s Angels type.”
Gideon was a shade over six foot two and well put together. Wide-set blue-gray eyes sat above a chiseled, slightly askew nose and below a broad forehead and bushy eyebrows. Wavy, dark blond hair was pulled back away from his square face which was reddened by the sun, wind, and Native American genes. Thin lips surrounded even white teeth. In his blue jeans, scuffed Red Wing boots, pink Jimmy Buffett t-shirt, and ancient leather flight jacket, he resembled the original MacGyver guy…if the original MacGyver had tried to field a ground ball with his nose.
Holding his thumb out he watched the truck slowly pull past him. Just as he thought, “Shit! They’re going to pass me by,” the old truck pulled over and shuddered to a stop. This wasn’t just any pickup. An early Sixties Ford painted in psychedelic colors and designs. “I’ve seen this design before…the Partridge Family’s bus? No, Janis Joplin’s Porsche. It is painted just like Janis Joplin’s Porsche.”
Just for reference: Janis Joplin’s 1964 Porshe
An older woman hopped from the cab dressed as Janis Joplin might have dressed had she lived. Gideon placed her age somewhere north of sixty and she had an old-school, aging hippie vibe. She was painfully slender and tall, dressed in low riding faded and flare-bottomed blue jeans held below her narrow waist with a wide cloth belt featuring a peace sign belt buckle. A scooped neck long-sleeved tie-dyed tee emphasized her narrow shoulders and was worn above the jeans and leather “Jesus” sandals below.
Wild gray hair framed a face bronzed by the sun, still pretty despite the deep crevasses that cut her cheeks and the lines around her eyes and mouth. Brown eyes that twinkled sat below the oversized, round sunglasses she pushed atop her forehead. The mouth below her wide nose broke into a wide grin, her laugh lines deepening.
Her voice was a growl as she commented, “Young man I can tell from your aura you are in a bit of trouble.” Grasping his hand with both of hers, she continued, “Hi, I’m Maudie Jenkins. The gods sent me to help you.” The woman’s voice was a gravely, low alto that bespoke of too many late nights and cigarettes.
Before Gideon could speak, she continued, pumping his hand with great vigor, “That is a beautiful bike…it’s not a Sportster. What is it? My boyfriend and I rode a Sportster back in the Sixties…chasin’ the dream from Hot Lanta through NOLA to San Francisco and back again. Well…I came back again. Now, who did you say you were? My memory is not as good as it used to be…you haven’t told me your name, have you?” She continued to hold Gideon’s hand as she chased her rabbits.
Gideon’s smile showed straight white teeth and laugh lines of his own, “No ma’am. I’m Gideon Bates and no it isn’t a Sportster; the bike is a 1964 Duo-Glide…or was. I believe a death knell has sounded for my engine.”
Again, pumping his hand, “Well Gideon Bates, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance. I’m sorry about your faithful steed, but had it not died we wouldn’t have met, and the intersection of our auras was destined to be.”
She stopped and pondered for a moment, “Gideon was the son of Joash and a great Israelite general. He won a great battle over the Midianites despite being outnumbered. Your aura tells me you were once a great leader and are destined to be one again.”
Walking to the back of the trailer she answered, “Everyone puts off an aura but only a few can see it. Fewer still can read them.” Winking she continued, “I am one of the few…the blessed…or cursed.” Her smile was impish as if she might be pulling one’s leg. Gideon was unsure.
Together they dropped the trailer’s tailgate, “Your aura is of a man who is troubled by more than a broken motorcycle, but one who is destined to do important things and find great happiness. You were a great leader, weren’t you?”
Looking at his scuffed Red Wings before looking up and smiling, “I don’t know. I was in the army….”
“Yes, you were, an officer I’ll wager…or one of the real leaders, a sergeant. A leader of men just the same. A man soon to be on a knightly quest. I’ll help you roll your lame steed onto the trailer, and then run you into town. You are lucky, I just took several containers of old clothes to the clothes bank at the Presbyterian church in Waynesville and needed the trailer to get them there. We’ll drop your injured mount off at Shupee Dupree’s Busted Knuckle and he’ll have it right as rain in two shakes of a sheep’s tail.”
“Maudie, please Gideon.”
Breathing deeply, “Maudie, I’m a little strapped for available cash….”
The aging hippie was like a child at a birthday party, wanting to open her gifts but forced to wait until the singing was done and candles are blown out, “Of course you are, now don’t you worry none. I know you are good for any expenses. I’ve been down on my luck myself.”
“I have money, I just have to get to an ATM….”
“Chile, I said don’t worry.”
“Lawd have mercy boy, I said don’t worry, I was destiny that put us together today.”
So, it begins…if I could just stick the ending…and everything in between.
Don’s last fictional novel is “Thunder Along the Copperhead”, a depression era historical romance. You may enjoy it by downloading or purchasing in paperback at https://rb.gy/2s3wbx.