Mirriam-Webster defines the word Epiphany as follows:
a (1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something
(2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking
(3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure
b : a revealing scene or moment
They also include the religious definitions, but the one cited above is clearly the applicable one here, as that’s what I felt this morning. Having that last minute idea that always arrives just as the head settles onto the pillow, I chose to try it this morning, and that’s when the light bulb over my head went off.
I’ve written a number of stories circling the same central theme, sometimes with the same characters having a part in them…but, it seems they’re not really independent stories at all.
They’re actually parts of the book I’ve started, pieces of that buried central idea that became visible here and there, which I fortunately captured as individual tales. Now, looking at the big picture, I can better see the interconnections between them.
Summon a gun. Whodathunkit?
My pillow arrival idea was to incorporate one of those short stories as a chapter in the book, and the resulting fit is better than if it had been tailored on Saville Row in London. Yes, oh yes, it’s staying in the book, and there may well be additional pieces and fragments from those tales woven in here and there, as is appropriate.
But, this isn’t simply a rehash of those stories again, not at all…they’re just building blocks of a whole, primarily composed new as that idea moves up higher out of the sand it’s buried in. As an example, here’s part of the prologue, which is completely new:
Late September, 1951.
It was 2:19 AM, the night air carrying a chill through Carson’s Mill, the dark sky above cloudless and clear.
The tall man in black stood on a corner in front of the Old Stone Safe Deposit and Trust Company and looked up into the night sky. He saw far more than the twinkling stars, admiring the multitude of shades and textures within the inky darkness above as they ebbed and flowed…
He turned his head sharply to the left, his attention diverted by what was about to happen a few miles away. He knew there was a car on the main road and another on a side street that would intersect with the main road after a long, blind curve. He also knew that the driver of the car on that side street was drunk, was speeding, and would enter that intersection at high speed without slowing down, hitting the other car broadside and killing the passengers within.
He did not know why, as he was generally amused by the stupid things people did to themselves, but he instinctively understood he had to prevent that crash from happening so he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
Harry Carter was tooling along at 50 on the dark road, his ‘47 Chevy Fleetline weaving erratically back and forth. He was shouting, cursing his luck, cursing everyone he knew, and cursing the world in general. He’d gone in for his second shift job at the paper mill, and found a pink slip waiting in place of his time card. He took the meager severance check they’d given him, cashed it at the bank just before they closed, and proceeded to drink as much of it as he could before the bartender finally cut him off.
Remembering that now, he cursed him too.
As he was ranting and shaking his head, he happened to glance at the rear-view mirror and yelped when he saw someone staring at him from the back seat. The tall stranger sitting there was completely bald, with a trimmed black goatee and thick brows over his piercing dark eyes.
“Hey, who th’fuck are you?” he slurred.
The stranger said nothing, staring at the back of Harry’s head in silence.
“I asst you a questun, asshole!” Harry bellowed as he turned in his seat to face the man sitting in the back. He turned easily, never bothering to wear a seat belt.
The stranger reached into his jacket pocket and removed a worn metal cigarette case. He extracted a jet-black cigarette from the case, returned it to his pocket, and lit the cigarette with the spark created by clicking two long, thick fingernails against each other. His eyes never left Harry’s as the car filled with a pungent, sulfur like odor that made Harry’s scowl deepen.
Glaring at the intruder, his vision now blurry and doubling, Harry didn’t notice the start of the wide curve in the road until he felt the car bucking and heaving when it left the smooth asphalt and careened onto the dirt and grass leading to the huge oak tree overlooking the road.
As Harry was turning back to face forward and regain control, the massive car plowed into the trunk of the oak at 58 miles per hour, launching him up toward the windshield. His head smashed through the thick glass as he was violently pitched forward.
His momentum was abruptly stopped when his Western belt buckle caught on the steering wheel, pivoting his neck down onto the jagged glass and severing his jugular. A thick branch in the old tree, cracked at its base by the impact, dropped down on the back of his head, completing his decapitation. Harry’s severed head fell onto the crumpled hood and slowly rolled over, staring up with wide eyed surprise at the dark sky above.
On the main road, just a quarter mile ahead, Paul and Dorothy Bennett drove through the intersection, completely unaware of what had just happened.
The tall man opened the back door and stepped out of Harry’s demolished Chevy. He smiled at the confused expression on the head lying on the hood and looked toward the main road where the Bennetts had just passed by. He didn’t know then why the accident had to be prevented but was certain he’d find out in due time.
Lights in nearby houses were coming on as people stepped out to see what had happened to cause that loud noise, gasping and commenting to each other about the severity of the crash.
A woman who was a nurse rushed over to offer help, stopping short when she saw the head lying on the ruined hood of the car. She turned back to her neighbors, calling out.
“Has anyone called the Sheriff yet?”
“Yep, I did,” came a reply from the darkness.
“Well, he doesn’t need to rush. This one’s a goner.”
The crowd edged closer for a better look, the tall man no longer there. The ruined engine ticked as it cooled, like a death watch beetle not yet satisfied.
New? Yep, sure is, nothing in the prologue from any previous work at all. Good? I sure think so, and I hope my readers will as well. And anyone who’s had the opportunity to read my tale “Blind Demo” will see the connection immediately.
Meanwhile, it’s time to do some more writing, so…