Thanks for the comments on the openeing excerpt from The Kiminee Dream I posted last week. Following is the second of three scenes comprising the novel’s prologue. The word in some places is that prologues are passe, but the beauty of being an authorpreneur is that I can consider those sorts of things without feeling any pressure to accept them.
So, here’s the second scene from the prologue to The Kiminee Dream, a work in progress:
Jasper Skrillpod didn’t trust his father. Wicklogan “Wick” Skrillpod was an icon in Chicago’s business community who had parlayed a small family-owned cigarillo company into a dominant force in the U.S. tobacco industry. He’d also come through the stock market crash of 1929, two years before Jasper’s birth, with only minor losses. The mayor and aldermen of the grand city on Lake Michigan courted his favor. Up-and-coming young men sought his counsel before choosing a career path. Schools throughout the state asked him to speak at commencements. His donations to charitable causes were legendary.
Jasper was not impressed. Wick’s other four sons waddled like ducklings behind him when he ambled around their mansion. Not so Jasper. If Wick said it was going to rain, Jasper left his overcoat and umbrella at home. If Wick wanted his offspring to play a game of badminton on a summer’s afternoon, Jasper disappeared into the basement and looked through mildewed volumes of folktales. If Wick said the family’s chicken potpie supper was especially tasty, Jasper used his fork to push peas, carrots and chunks of chicken and potato around his plate, but never took a bite. This was despite his sweet stepmother, Monique’s, reminder that everyone was being squeezed by a depression like no one had ever seen, and the family was lucky Wick was such a good provider.
Jasper’s behavior was frustrating to the father. “I’ve got everything under control except for the one boy, the middle one,” Wick said to his second wife on a rare weekday he was home in time for cocktails before supper.
Monique, a brave soul for having married a widower with five sons, said, “Jasper travels a different road.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
“Have you tried talking with him?” she asked.
“He always slips away.”
“Why not have a chat after I’ve read him a bedtime story?”
Wick brushed her off. “When the boy’s all settled down and shifting into dreamland? Not a good idea, silly woman.”
However, after Jasper was tucked in and reading Treasure Island by the dim light of his bedside lamp, Wick did just as Monique had suggested, having convinced himself it was his own idea. He strode into the room and barely missed his son’s feet when he sat down. He then attempted to make small talk, but Jasper mumbled a barely audible yes, no or dunno to everything his father asked.
Finally Wick blurted out, “There’s been a rift between us ever since your mother’s death. It seems to only widen no matter what I do.”
Jasper kept his eyes trained on the book. “She didn’t die.”
“She didn’t die.”
“Oh, my dear boy. I had no idea you were so divorced from reality. She left a note, said she was returning to the lake she loved more than life itself. She was not in her right mind.”
Jasper didn’t respond.
“I should have seen it—the stress she was under raising five strapping boys with me gone so much of the time.”
“I know what you did.” Jasper looked up from his book and glared at Wick.
“What? You think I had a hand in her demise?”
“She’s not dead,” the boy insisted.
“I see this isn’t something I can fix by taking you out for an ice cream sundae or a movie. We have to get you some help. ”
“I saw her put it on.”
“It’s been four years, son. You’re—”
“The seal skin.”
Wick made fists with both hands, then opened them and wiggled his fingers in an attempt to relax. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I found it. The seal skin. I didn’t know it meant she would leave us. I promise I didn’t know.” Jasper burst into tears.
Wick’s face reddened. “Stop your blubbering,” he spat. “You’re almost ten years old. Act your age.” He rose to his feet and hovered, all 6’1” of him towering over the boy. “I don’t know what it’s going to take, but we’ll put an end to this,” he declared before stomping across creaking floorboards. At the door, he paused and commanded, “Now turn out that light!”
Jasper leaned over, switched off the lamp and listened to his father’s footsteps recede two flights to the ground floor. Then he tiptoed to the window and looked out toward Lake Shore Drive and the dark expanse of water beyond. Leaning against the sill, he whispered, “I won’t be like him, Mommy. I promise.”
End of Excerpt
What do you think?
To read the first excerpt, go here. Thanks for reading. If you know of folks who might like my work, I’d very much appreciate your sending them here.