Devil Cares: Chapter One

May 5, 2008 at 4:12 pm (Devil Cares) ()

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This is it, we’re going live people. This is the first ever update of my serial fiction. I hope you enjoy it. Remember, every day this week will have an update. Next week begins the normal MWF schedule. Don’t forget to check my LJ for daily news.
And without further ado, I give you:

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There are some towns, small towns especially, that seem to never change. Progress, when it comes at all, creeps in like a thief. Mostly, it goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Usually the source of this perpetuity is a kind of civic pride that the town is a quaint throwback to the olden days. “We’re traditional,” the townspeople say, “and proud of it.”
Jericho, Montana is a town that, depending on whom one asks, either suffers from or enjoys this same kind of attitude. A ranching community nestled at the foot of the Rockies (as the locals call the Rocky Mountains) Jericho had changed very little in the handful of hundred years since its birth. Oh, the electric wiring was current, sure, and cable and the internet was in every home, but the spirit of the town remained unchanged.
When the inevitable superficial changes did occur, they were mostly ignored. The gift shop on the corner of Third would forever be Danny’s Place to those that remembered the old café. Mrs. Robinson the younger had taken over the cookies-and-tea socials at the church from the elder Mrs. Robinson with nary a blink. (Except from old Priscella Jones, who claimed the tea just never tasted the same after.)
Yes, like most small-spirited towns, subtle changes were abided. It was only when an occurrence happened that was so outrageous, so unexpected, so utterly mind-blowing as to be impossible to ignore that the townspeople took notice. Change is a cycle, however, and just before the big change rocked the town, they didn’t notice the little things leading up to it.
It was December before people could finally pretend no more. For one thing, it was just a few scant days to Christmas, and Jericho was in the grip of the worst bout of rain since…well, ever. People were dismayed and confused. It was Christmas! Christmas in Jericho was the time when the citizens invited their out of town relatives and presented the lights and decorations with a flourish. “It’s not much, but it’s home,” they would say with pride.
But pride, as it often does, blinded them to the more important happenings just down the road.
Had anyone noticed the man wearing a blue fedora walking down the middle of Main Street in a pouring rainstorm, no doubt at least one person would have asked him what he thought he was doing. Jerichans were nothing if not practical, and milling about in rainfall was certainly not. No one got the chance, however, because they simply didn’t see him. As far as they were concerned he was not there to be noticed.
It was for the best, all in all. Had anyone tried to stop him long enough to ask, it undoubtedly would have ended badly for them.
A few hundred yards before the city limit, he turned off Main onto a side road that led to a cozy mom-and-pop roadside motel. The Dew Drop Inn was fairly typical of the usual motel fare: dim lights, tacky carpet, and a bell above the door that made a charmingly annoying twinkling sound.
When the man entered there was no one at the desk. He took off his fedora and laid it on the counter. The hat wasn’t at all wet, and neither was the rest of him. He didn’t ding the bell that was there by the registry; the door had already made quite enough noise. It didn’t take long for a pleasantly plump woman, coffee in hand, to appear behind the desk.
“Welcome to the Dew Drop Inn, can you believe this weather?” She shook her head. “Worst bout of rain we’ve had in years. And at Christmas, too.”
Elaine Shores was the “mom” variable of the “and-pop” equation. Back in the day she had been a mildly attractive woman with wavy brown hair and a slender nose. Age had taken the edge off both. Her hair was now tight, fly-away curls and her nose was old lady large.
She had been studying his nondescript features while he’d been studying hers. Average height, build, sandy hair. Absolutely nothing to make him stand out to anyone who actually allowed themselves to see him. Except his blue fedora, of course.
“You’re not from around here, are you?” she finally asked.
He gave her a bland smile, and spoke in a voice that was just as blank. “No, just passing through on business.”
As she typed away at the computer, booking him a room, she asked, “What business could you have in Jericho? If you don’t mind me asking.”
“Oh, just collecting on some contracts.”
“I see.” Her voice made it plain she was dying to ask more, but didn’t want to appear rude.
He handed her a credit card and she ran it through.
“How many nights will you be staying with us, sir?”
“Just tonight, I imagine.”
She clacked a few more keys before handing the card back to him with a room key.
“Check-out’s at eleven.”
He took the card, tipped his fedora, and made his way outside to wander down the rows of housing to the room number listed on his key. He hummed in a tuneless sort of way as he walked. He inserted his key, opened the door, and entered his room without incident. Already, the woman at the counter was forgetting her curiosity in favor of catching her favorite stories on television.
Besides the rain, the scene was ruthlessly, utterly normal. Besides the rain. The relentless, out of season, driving, pounding rain.
All over the city blackouts would be reported for the next twenty-four hours. When the power finally returned at 8:13 A.M. the following day, Paul Shores would call the local sheriff department to report the death of his wife.


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9 Comments

  1. Zappaz said,

    Man, I love it already! (Just like I knew I would.) I’m hooked, eager for more, and shall be waiting impatiently for tomorrow. ^_~

    Awesome work!

  2. Yahrlan said,

    Yay! First post on the first chapter! (Surprising, no?)

    Well, like I said as we were testing links and such, here’s the playlist: Devil Cares Chapter Playlist. This one should work for Mac users, unlike the test (sorry about that, by the way). Let me know if this one doesn’t work and I’ll try to figure it out.

  3. Yahrlan said,

    Oh! heh, sorry Zappaz…Second post on the first chapter lol.

  4. jekloneo said,

    Very nice. 🙂 (That was an understatement.)

    Just one tiny typo error: It was the for best, all in all.
    I think you meant “for the best”?

  5. Seth Gray said,

    Thanks for the catch, jekloneo. Fixed now.

  6. jekloneo said,

    You’re welcome.
    I hope you don’t mind my obsession with typo errors and the sort (even though I must say my typing isn’t error-free at all).

  7. Seth Gray said,

    Oh, not at all. In the comments policy page there’s a section saying I welcome all corrections, so thanks once again.

  8. yinyang said,

    Hello, there. I stumbled along this site from LiveJournal, and just wanted to comment on a few things.

    “Mostly, it goes unnoticed until its too late.” –> “Mostly, it goes unnoticed until its too late.”

    “Usually the source of this perpetuity is a kind of civic pride that the town is a quaint throwback to the olden days.” This sentence confused me the first couple of times I read it. I understand what you’re trying to say, but there might be a better way to say it.

    “A ranching community nestled at the foot of the Rockies (as the locals call the Rocky Mountains) Jericho had changed very little in the handful of hundred years since its birth.” –> “A ranching community nestled at the foot of the Rockies, Jericho had changed very little in the handful of hundred years since its birth.” I think the comment in parenthesis is unnecessary; but, then again, I might be biased, as I live in the foothills of the Rockies as well, though further south.

    “When the power finally returned at 8:13 A.M. the following day Paul Shores would call the local sheriff department to report the death of his wife.” –> “When the power finally returned at 8:13 A.M. the following day, Paul Shores would call the local sheriff‘s department to report the death of his wife.”

    Otherwise, the writing is pretty solid. The dialogue is great.

  9. Seth Gray said,

    Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, and thank you for the typo catches.

    When I first wrote the sentence with the parenthetical in it, it didn’t actually have the parenthetical. But then I though not everyone might know what the Rockies are, as I, too, live in them. I’ll the agree the civic pride sentence is a bit awkward, but it’s less so than earlier drafts.

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