It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like December!

 

malheurriver 046
The actual Malheur River, from March 2017.

Part One: In Which I Prattle A Bit

What a noisy night.

Bam! Shiver of little furry body meeting something metallic outside on a cold moonlit night! Coyotes yowling and prowling and carousing nearby! What the hell, someone was heard to mutter. It might even have been me. Window yanked open, sudden silence ensued. Whatever primal chase had been called a weird draw held its breath and went still, waiting for my intruder-like presence to withdraw. I withdrew. Returned to my not at all earned slumber.

I did promise a sliver of my November novel challenge.

I did promise that, yes? I didn’t invent that in my head just now? Hello? Is this thing on?

Part Two: In Which I Keep A Promise!

Before I descend into woe is me o woe land…here’s the unvarnished, totally rough, actual opening to Naked Farmers of the Apocalypse. Notice there’s cursing. If that offends you, eh. I am probably not the writer or friend you wish in your life if you find cursing crosses the line with you. I cuss like a motha bear, to quote, somewhat, from something my dad occasionally mutters.

The story! Always Be Selling Your Writing. ABSYW.

Candle– yes, that is her name because it leaped into my brain that Candle is the name of that girl I yanked forth from my imagination– finds a newborn baby girl alongside the banks of the Malheur River. She takes this baby to her house and her grandmother absconds with it, in a light-hearted Edwardian romp about manners, tea and the right way to steal a car to aid in your kidnapping efforts. I made myself giggle with that somewhat accurate summary of my ‘plot’. Plot! What is plot but patriarchal imperialists trying to control all women???

Okay!! Before I totally dissolve into a more bonkers version of America right now…here’s a bit from NFA!! Enjoy! Joy! Oy!

chapter one: Riverbank is kinda rank

Candle Santiago let the smell of the Malheur River soak into her nostrils. Fetid rotting carp and soft rotting cottonwood branches. She moved closer to the stank little river, sniffing back a snootful of snot. Her allergies had come back for a visit. Springtime had come to Malheur County like a sullen bride walking down an aisle covered with dog shit. Candle waited for Tiff to show up; they would smoke a joint Tiff would steal from her mom’s new boyfriend, Mike. It’s good stuff, Tiff had promised. If I let Mike touch my titties, he gives me a joint. It’s totally worth it. Considering that Mike was over forty and Tiff was way under eighteen, no, it really was not. But Candle had her own problems and Tiff seemed fine with an old pervert slapping her tiny boobs or whatever he did.

Something caught Candle’s attention. A splash. A faint little cry. Some animal caught in the act of drowning. Candle walked toward the heavy brush. There, a grungy pink bundle and yes, a tiny human hand extending from it. A baby. She bent over the filthy blanket full of a tiny child, which looked like a small wrinkled monkey. “Hey, what the hell.” A glance about but it seemed the baby had just been left there. Like that Moses baby in the Bible her grandmother loved to read. He floated down the Nile and the Pharaoh’s daughter scooped him right the bibbidy up. Except this baby didn’t look clean and cared for. It looked like shit. There was blood and goop on it. It didn’t seem hurt. Fresh born? Jesus on toast, as her dad liked to say, which made her grandmother lower her truly caterpillar-like eyebrows and mutter about Mother Mary, forgive my son. Candle picked the baby up and then nearly dropped it. It wiggled and went stiff and wiggled some more, and then sobbed. She had never held a real baby before. Her sister, Doreen, was a lesbian. Dora had told the entire family, at Christmas not two years before, that she wasn’t having no fucking kids, ever. Candle, then ten or so, had been too young to trust with Aunt Irina’s brand new baby girl. Nobody was allowed to hold the little freak, who had been born with only one arm. There was also something messed up inside and everyone had acted real sad when Kaitlyn had died in the night. Just one of those things, Esme Santiago had moaned out. Just one of those things. Candle’s mother, Cris, had not been there. She had been down in Pasadena or Thousand Oaks by then. Now and then she sent post cards to Candle. I live here now, one had said, with a picture of something pretty on the front. As Cris did not have any money, Candle assumed she lived in a shithole and took the buses to get around.

“I got it…what the fuck is that? Oh em gee, it’s a baby,” Tiff came up behind Candle, wearing her favorite pair of sweat pants, stamped with the Florida Gators and already holding out that joint, which she put behind her big ear. Tiff would have been somewhat pretty if only God hadn’t given her giant elephant ears. Tiff also had a strong stench of pot. But her mother had plants. Candle really didn’t pay attention to all that pot talk; it bored her into tears. “Whatcha doing with a baby?”

“I found it. What do we do with it? Cops? Hospital? It looks real young,” Candle let Tiff peek at the dirty, squirmy little life.

malheurriver 044.jpg
A bovine skull I found by the Malheur River, more than likely a death caused by the incredibly harsh winter of 2016-17. 

 

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