Friday, February 24, 2012

Books on Feijer - new humorous novel

Hi, here is the prologue of a novel I am working on. Feel free to comment:

It looks quite ordinary, Hickory Street in Walnut Port, but it really isn´t. If you were a tourist driving through it would seem like any other street in small town USA. A few closed factories, a worn down school and a small mechanics shop with rust deterred signs hanging from the few eyes at the wall that had yet not fallen off. Scattered between these sorrow excuses for commercial and public buildings people live in houses that are as well kept as is possible with the means they have at their disposal.But if for some strange reason you would decide to make a stop to see the town, you would get a whole other perspective on Hickory Street.In number five the Friedenhoffs, a family of six children and their parents. They are a bit too religious if you ask their neighbors. You probably wouldn´t, though. It would be a mistake. As a stranger you would get nothing but a grunt or two - and that´s if you´re lucky. Most people get nothing at all.Every Sunday Mr. and Mrs. Friedenhoff walk to their car, an old Volvo Station Wagon with extra seats in the back. They are all dressed up for church and followed by their six well combed kids. Five of them look exactly like their father. The youngest boy not so much. No one knows why, but there are more than enough ideas to go around: the milk man, the post man, the pizza man, even the paper delivery boy, but that´s a bit over the edge. Of course no one says anything out loud. After all, one should be a good neighbor and keep such things to one self. So it´s only during the weekly bridge night at the Wilfords´ or the Hansson´s the talk goes. They meet every Saturday to play bridge and to share a meal. It’s not the only sharing going on, but that´s a secret between Mrs. Hansson and Mr. Wilson. Well, actually one more person knows, but we´ll get to that later.Further down the street we have the oldest house in town, a brick house from 1901. Mr. Hound has lived here for 20 some years. No one knows exactly how old he is, but he was already an old man when he moved in, so he must be at least 80. The kids around the block says about 500 years and they tend to tease him when they can´t come up with anything else to do. And finding a way to tease him is not much of an effort, because Mr. Hound fully lives up to his name. He looks like a bulldog and both his voice and his temper fits perfectly. So, when the kids are bored they ring his bell and when he answers using the door phone he is met with a howling and a barking.There is a narrow window from his bathroom and out to the street, no more than 12 inches sideways. When something really makes his temper boil he flings up that window and starts shouting. Again, if you were a tourist just passing by at such an occasion you would be witness to the strangest scenario:After a two minute howling and barking there would be a short silence. Just a few milliseconds. Then the sound of a narrow window being slammed against a brass pipe hanging on the wall to lead down the water from the roof when it rains. The good people of Hickory Street stop whatever they are doing and turn their heads towards number 5. Then an old rusty voice cries out of a window: “IDONEED AWAKEUP INDA MORNIN BYDA SOUNDODEMKIDS CRYIN AND SCREAMIN LIKE PIGS BEIN FED! - murmur, murmur - NOONE EVER LISTENS ANYMORE ANDAKIDS NOWADAYSAVE NO SPECT FOR DE ELDERLY ANYMORE!”The good people of Hickory Street would be standing still and patiently wait for him to finish. Then he would give the salute that marked the end of his speech: “YA GATIT, IDIOTS! YA GATIT!” and then the sound of the window being slammed shut. After a few seconds of silence with the locals waiting for the final stage of the ritual the window would once again be opened and the end salute be repeated: “YA GATIT, IDIOTS! YA GATIT!”Slam!Silence for a few more seconds and people would go back to what they were doing before. To an outsider this is just strange, but to the residents of Hickory Street it´s an integrated part of their lives and they wouldn’t have the slightest idea about life without it.Mr. Hound has a dog, too. It´s said that most dog owners look like their dog, but in Mr. Hound´s case there is no resemblance whatsoever. As told before, Mr. Hound has the appearance of a bulldog, but Molly looks exactly like an old wrinkled version of Lassie. Mr. Hound loves that dog and takes her for hours of walks every single day. Right in the middle of the street he walks with it. It´s not that he considers the street as his property, but he just hasn´t been able to keep up with the development of the world and hasn´t realized that people actually use the streets when driving. The good people of Walnut Port know this and patiently slow down and so traffic is smooth. Slow, but smooth.When Molly needs to empty her stomach she sits down right on the spot and does her thing. Mr. Hound respectfully moves the poo to the side of the street. He doesn´t use his hands, of course. That would be disgusting. Instead he takes out his comb from his back pocket and uses it to trill the poo inch by inch till it´s out of harm’s way and then he puts the comb back where it belongs.On the corner of Hickory Street and Main Street there is a small house with a flat roof. A woman of indeterminable age lives there. You know: the kind of person that looks the same kind of old from age 50 to age 100. Her name was Susan and she was no taller than 5 feet. The house was placed a bit back on the property and on the front there were rows and columns of grave stones for sale. That´s why they call her Stoney Susan. Every once in a while a truck pulls up and two broad shouldered men with hair between their teeth start unloading the stones one by one setting them on display. For this they use straps. One end for each of them and the straps underneath the stones.One day one of the regulars had moved away and a new guy replaced him. He was a younger man, about 35 years old or so and he seemed like the kind of man you didn´t want to get in trouble with.As usual they started loading of the truck as Stoney Susan came out to them complaining about how they handled the stones:"Set those stones down on a straight line!" she yelled, "how am I supposed to sell anything if you just toss them wherever you like!? People will start thinking this is a jewish graveyard that isn´t cared for!"The new guy certainly wasn´t going to put up with that kind of verbal abuse, so he yelled back at her: "Do you have any idea how heavy these things are? You better behave, Lady! We´re doing the best we can!"Stoney Susan wasn´t ready to let it go. "Oh, please, just do your jobs! Are you men or are you mice?" she said with contempt.The new guy had just about enough so he looked her straight in the eye and pulled what he thought was an ace: "If you don´t stop this right now, you can bl....y unload the stones yourself!" He looked to his partner with a winners smile, but much to his surprise his partner suddenly dropped everything he had in his hands and jumped in behind the steering wheel and slammed the door shut!If Stoney Susan was in a good mood that day or she just gave him some extra slack because he was new is still food for gossip, but she didn´t say anything.Instead she just stepped up to the back of the truck, put her short arms around the nearest stone, lifted it off with her bare hands and placed it on the ground as if it was an empty card board box... The new guy stood completely still, baffled by what had just happened and the man playing hide and please don’t go seek in the truck cautiously opened the door. Being convinced that the danger was over he stepped out and joined his partner.After a short silence, the men finished unloading the truck and none of them, including Susan, ever talked about it since.Then there is the football field where most of the men on Hickory Street go to be men. Samuel Friedenhoff has been the quarterback for the past five years and has brought an old friend in despite the fact that John isn’t one of the locals. He lives all the way on the other side of the river more than 500 yards from Hickory Street. It wasn’t very popular at first, but being the quarterback it´s easier for Sam to make unpopular changes. Besides, John has proven his worth. He is as good a football player as he is bad at keeping a good marriage. So after a few weeks he was widely accepted as one of the guys.Just across the street from number 5 there is an empty house and a sign saying “For Sale.” The sign is marked by dust and wind and the McKays living next to it secretly hopes it will stay that way - at least for now. Mr. McKay owns “The sweet Muffin,” a diner at the corner of Hickory Street and Taylor Avenue and hopes that one day he can save enough money to buy that property to build a bigger diner there. How that goes is where our story really begins…
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