Fiction Excerpt Uncategorized

Excerpt: The Irishman’s Tale

Desert Meets Ocean

The Irishman’s Tale is a short story relating a pivotal moment in the life of a mysterious, iconic character from the earliest days of second tier colonization and namesake of The Irishman’s Mountains. As the story goes, the Irishman, whose name has been lost to history, emerged from the desert with a squad of devoted followers and liberated the pioneers of Red Hills City from a company of loathesome, murderous picaroons who had descended upon the already struggling settlement.  Some believe he was veteran, weary of the violence and corruption of the United Colonies during the tax wars, while others hold that he was a phantom, or even an angel.  A growing number of people suspect he is just a myth, a tall tale left over from a simpler time, which is a real shame because, in the end, he was just a man, not even a particularly good man, and that was what made all the difference. 

{First draft, redundancies intact}

I’d either find a way to survive, or I wouldn’t, and if I didn’t then I wouldn’t exactly have a lot of time to consider my mistakes in detail. I’d have better things to fill that flash that goes by as my breath slips away.  Not much to do but shake your head and smile in that regard–a lot of folks give lip service to “living without regret,” but here I was, walking the walk, however involuntarily.

Fearing death—it was useless. I have no loved ones to feel my absence or grieve my memory. What grand hubris it is, to ruminate on one’s own non-existence, a state which by its very definition I’d never get to see?  Oh, the dying part of it could be bad. I’d seen death enough times to understand. Pain is a bugger; futility is a drag. But death? Once you’re there, you’re there, and that’s the beauty of it. You’re either nothing, or you’re dancing in limbo with three cherubs, a couple of folks from history you always wanted to drink with, and dear departed Aunt Gilda.

That is not to say that you shouldn’t rage against the light, as the poet encouraged. Kick and scream, spit in death’s eye—it may beat you in the end, but what a hollow victory that is: death never gets to gloat.

And it hit me: I’m spending a hell of a lot of time thinking about not thinking about death.  Not much to do with that but laugh. the sound buried by the grumbling waves–rolling in as far as my failing eyes could see, to the north and to the south

Water, water–oh Coleridge, you old bastard.

I slugged down the final, hot ounces from my canteen, replaced the bottle in my bag and considered tossing the whole thing into the sand for archeologists to enjoy one day. The sky remained blue, and I winked at it. Tell the cherubs they’ll need to find a different sitter. I would be late.

The tide seemed to be receding, and the hard wet sand near the water’s edge provided the first solid footing in three days. I headed south and left the driftwood behind me.