Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I don't know where this took place and I only know the names of those two cities

An excerpt from Chapter 7 of Mona in the Desert:

Sergeant Ernesto Grassi almost died of meningitis when he was six years old. The infection got into his head and spine when Ernesto was recovering from a skull fracture he got when his older brother Marco threw a chunk of asphalt the size of a baseball at him. It wasn’t deliberate, Marco maintains. Purely an accident. The Grassi family lived along a road at the western edge of a small city in Ohio. I don’t know what city. There was a cluster of houses inhabited by large Italian families, and a road that curved out of town toward a lake whose shores were thick with broadleaf trees. A creek ran in a parallel course to the road, a creek that ran dry in the summers but when the rains came in early fall, filled again and the first brown and gold leaves dropped by the elms or maples would whirl along on the creek’s surface, dragged downstream to the lake. In the late springtime, as the creek dried out it was transformed into a wide ditch with pools of stagnant water where frogs laid eggs by the millions and tadpoles wriggled by the hundreds of thousands and frogs leapt away to the nearby forest by the thousands. The ground between the creek and the narrow road was soft and once in a while a sinkhole would appear on the shoulder of the road, filling with dark still water, the edge of the asphalt crumbling away. Young boys would take the bits of broken asphalt and throw them straight up as far into the air as they could throw, and have contests for which of them made the biggest splash in the sinkhole. Winning this contest was important to Marco Grassi. He could throw a chunk of asphalt the size of a baseball higher than anyone, spinning it to make its splash even greater. This was in Toledo. Or even Cleveland. I don’t know where this took place and I only know the names of those two cities—though there’s Cincinnati, too, and Akron. Cooperstown sounds like Ohio, I’m told.

All the usual caveats about this being a first draft, etc.


  1. Mmm, I savored this. The stuff about the frogs reminds me of Annie Dillard. :)

  2. I completely missed this comment, oops!

    The only Annie Dillard I've read is some of her nonfiction. She uses a lot of nature images in her books, doesn't she? Frogs are cool.

    I haven't written a word on this WIP in a week. I'm at that "stopping 3/4 of the way through to rewrite the outline and maybe the first or second chapter while I'm at it" stage. Yay! I think that's still progress, though.

    Also, I sent COCKE & BULL to Diane a few days ago, to see if our friends at Rhemalda want to publish it. Fingers crossed!