Where the Blood Ends

My father was a fancy gentlemen who lived in Kent, England. He died like an animal out in Austin, Texas.

There I was, buryin’ the poor fucker.

Told myself there’d be time. There’s never time.

He never had no time for me so I didn’t make none for him. Now I know I should of.

But I guess that’s how spite works.

Fills you up all big like you’re a winner than when the high’s gone y’find yerself lower than before. With less time or none. ‘Cause there’s never time.


I remember the heat from that ball o’ plasma. Yes plasma, I know the science of it. ‘S plasma not fire.

I remember it scalding my neck and face for not wearing no oils. Like mama scalded me for not buryin’ my old man in Macon with his granddaddy. But she don’t know he hated his pops.

That was the second hottest day of 1861. The hottest was comin’ fast but how’s I suppose to know?

So as my arms burned from shovelin’ dirt and my heart thumped in the noon-day blaze and my lips cracked and my throat got that soar feelin’ when you workin’ hard. You might not know it if you’re young but I hope to God you learn it. Out there I’m thinkin’ about my brother and why he would slay family. I’m thinkin’ “How can I slay him?”

Yeah, I was lookin’ to slay him back.

This ain’t no sword and castle shit. We’re talkin’ retribution.

By time the moon came out and the desert show its stubborn way of goin’ from blazin’ t’freezin’ I was about done. Wouldn’t you know, I pondered spitting on his grave. I pondered about spitting longer than any man, woman, or child ever pondered spittin’ on any such thing.

“Nawh.” Walked away, wasn’t worth the spit.

I took my horse off a twisted tree, it neighed like it was more set t’leave than I were. “Okay, now.” Rubbed its face, hopped on top. Set off.

And I did go to Macon, by the way. Heard my brother’d been stayin’ down there.

Mosied up thinkin’ “He’ll be here and I’ll give him some rough words then it’s for the law to handle whatever.”

The boy wasn’t there. No matter how many shops I popped my head into. Even the big casino with the over-nice girlies didn’t know where he went so I visited the last person I though would have a clue o’where he was: his wife.

Dainty, is how I’d say she looked. Dainty.

Smiling at me, welcoming me into her tiny house. Her girl, Rita. Blonde. Big smile too. Thank God she looked like her mother. Didn’t have have our family’s big nose. I patted her head as she sat drawing with pencils, I think that’s what y’do with kids. Pat on the head. Her mom started fixin’ somethin’.

“No need. I ate at the Casino.”

She pouted. “I don’t want to hear of the Casino, heard enough from your brother.”

“Hnh. That right?”

“Yuh, if he wasn’t there he was working. Ignoring us.”

“Sounds like Paul.”

“Sounds like his daddy too.”

I glared at her as if I had the right or reason. What she said set a flare in my chest.

She blinked, swallowed. “Sorry. I know he passed.”

“He did. Passed with a mangle–” I looked at my niece. “Passed in a bad way.”

She pushed up her brow like I told her I lost my job rather than my pa. “And you you’re her ‘cause you want me to tell you why your own brother did show to the funeral.”

“Weren’t no fun’ral.” I snapped. “Weren’t no real burial. Men like him don’t get that treatment. They got buried by one the sons who hate’em the least.”

“So why have you visited?”

I looked at her like I knew she knew somethin’. ONly thing I really knew was she was better at hiding than I was finding the truth. She had that in common with Paul. Though his hidin’ was pyshical. “I need to know where Paul’s at.”

“No idea.”

“Hnh.” I scratched my beard. “If you’d said. ‘Not sure.’ Or ‘he didn’t tell me.’ Then I think I woulda bought it for a nickel but ‘No Idea’?

She swallowed again.

“A man’s wife has ‘No idea’ at all where he gone to.” I leaned back and waiting for the truth to creep on out.

She wiped her hands on her apron, tried not lookin’ in my eyes. Kissed her girl and sent her off. Then she sat down. Clasped her hand together. I focused on her blue eyes.

“I trespassed in his study, las’ week, he gave me shiner.”

“I’m sorry for it.”

“Never mind that. When I trespassed I saw…..” She shook her had like she didn’t want it to be real. “A pistol and a metal wrentch.”

“Hnh. Funny.”

“I hope you mean funny weird ‘cause I don’t see the joke, Miles. Paul ain’t no engineer, ain’t no sheriff, no gunslinger.

I connected the dots she layed there, “What’s he have need of a gun ‘n’ wrentch for?”

She took a rag out her pocket, “What’s he need a bandanda, on top of that?”

I know the kinds’a men who got need of these three things, same kind who got too strong a need f’r money.

She placed it down. “Your momma’s comin’ here. She’s gonna watch over my girl.”

“Where you off to?”

“Same answer as wherever your going.”

“Then maybe I should fix you somethin’ to eat, Clara. You’re gonna need it”

She smiled. Stood up and brushed herself dont’ and actually pulled up her sleeves. If ever there was housewife ready for the road to retribution it were Clara Colton. I chuckled to myself.

“Ever shot a gun before, Clara?”

“My momma showed me some before she went.”

“Good, jus’ holler if you want me to show you more before we leave.”

Clara crossed her arms, “I don’t want the banging n’ clappin’ around my girl, she scared just from when the lights off.”

Couldn’t help laugin’ at that. “Now that sound even more like Paul.”

“I hope that’s where the blood ends.” She looked dead serious. Couldn’t blame’er. Reminded me – as I’m reminded now – o’when I met Clara’s mama. She was a straight-cut gal. I think she took me aside ‘fore Paul married Clara.

6 thoughts on “Where the Blood Ends

  1. packoffeathers says:

    The written out accent is too distracting for me. I think your voice will work better if you cut out the typos and stick to word choice and sentence structure. (Also, there are too many unintentional typos.)
    I like the 2 opening lines. After that. I would cut straight to “Shit.”, cause you’re on the verge of an infodump.

  2. archie (@causticanatomy) says:

    I get what you were going for with the voice, and I kinda appreciate the novelty, but it’s a bit laborious to read. Because all the paragraphs are so short, the text feels longer than it really is, and difficult to follow. The plot itself is either going too fast or too slow. In one page we’ve gone from burying the father, to musing about death and family (of which we know practically nothing, by the way: how the father ended up dying the way he did, who the narrator and his brother are, why it’s the narrator who’s burying the father), to looking for the brother, to interrogating the sister-in-law, to making preparations to stop a robbery. You’d probably want to either flesh out each of those steps into its own scene, or just quite literally cut to the chase (that is, start with the narrator hunting his brother) and throw in bits of backstory along the way.

    As for style: the plasma line is completely pointless and really jarring; the concept itself didn’t exist until the 20th century, so there’s no way someone in 1861 would be using it. Also, I think you confused the words “scald” and “scold” at one point. At least AFAIK “scald” isn’t used in that meaning.

  3. Pete Budic says:

    First of all, this read a bit more like a short story than the first chapter of a novel. Not sure if that is what it is, but if it is the first chapter, it felt a little rushed — like there were two chapters crammed into one. Because you went so fast, I felt like I was reaching for details that should be there but weren’t. Maybe you can split up his first thoughts and then the visit to his sister-in-law into two chapters? Especially in the first section, the sentences are so short and choppy, I felt like you could expand them — perhaps into whole paragraphs.

    I had a problem reading the voice. It was laborious to get through. If you really want to go down this road, I’d recommend only putting the dialect into the dialog, and dropping the misspellings. The reader won’t be sure if you meant them or not. And no one actually misspells when they are speaking. I’d go for more of a dialect. This reads more like someone writing a letter, but that gets lost once there is dialog.

  4. Tayo says:

    I wrote this.

    Thank you for taking the time to read it and give me such useful feedback.

    It’s clear that the two most urgent problems are the pacing and the dialect which 2 out of 3 of you have described as “laborious”.

    I really appreciate your comments and I will take them into consideration when I make changes to the work, you have given me a lot to think about.

  5. Brett Mumford says:

    I liked the attempt with the speaking from the character. I used to read a lot of westerns when I was younger, so I did not find it too bad to read through. The only thing I would add is, be more consistent. If you are going to drop the g from -ing, then do it regularly.

    I also liked the first 2 lines, thought they did a good job of setting the initial image of the main character. I was curious how the main character had managed to get his horse up on the twisted tree to begin with, and why he would do that. So, I would watch a bit closer, some of the imagery you are trying to use.

    I am a bit of a stickler for grammar (excepting of course speech, where it is intentional), and I did find the lack of commas a little distracting sometimes.

    All in all, I think it is an interesting beginning and hope you have fun with the rest.

  6. Roger Schulz says:

    I guess I don’t have enough experience with Texas slang. I spent many years in south Georgia, but still could not follow what you were saying in some of your sentences.

    The story line seems to have promise, but I’d like it to be a bit easier to read.

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