It's a fact. Any creative format, whether
it's books, movies, television shows, or
paintings, will have tons of failed
material that was never good enough for
the showroom floor or the final cut.
And the harsh truth of being a writer is that some of your favorite work will never be seen by the public. Well, the editors behind The First Boy who was Broken, merciless though they are, were kind enough to allow some of these failures to see the light of day. That's why we created this ebook to accompany it.
BLOODY HANDS, HEARTLESS EDITORS:
7 deleted chapters from The First Boy who was Broken
– DANNY NEVILLE –
Pendleton, North Carolina, 1949
Danny Neville traced geometric shapes in the abandoned dirt lot on Langston Ave and 31st. Circles for tables. A rectangle for the stage. The hostess made out of clean, elegant triangles. As he rounded the corners constituting her shoulders he could have sworn he smelled her perfume- sweet, like lilacs.
He formed the bar out of a series of clumsy rectangles, the liquor bottles behind it were made from awkward pentagons. Dirty glasses were ovals. The flimsy coat rack was a series of rough squares carved in jagged gravel. As the stick in his hand cut through loose stones and drying mud from the rain two days before, he could hear it- more like a whisper than a voice, but it was there. The doorman asking for tickets. A giggle near the stage. Two star crossed lovers whispering soft nothings in the darkest corner.
And slowly it all came back to him- the music hall was cramped and dark. Sweet cigar smoke and deep laughter emanated from the back, where rugged old men exchanged rugged old stories. A few families in the middle. Some wide eyed children near the front, tapping their fingers against the hollow wood of the stage. The bakery next door always had fresh pulled pork sandwiches- the thick aroma mingled with the scent of the old cedar stage and made an appetizing, almost warming fragrance.
And then as if out of a dream, there she was. The beautiful Marie- her long golden hair bathed in the warm glow of electric orange lights, dangling around the stage.
She approached an old piano at center stage, dusty and scarred- salvaged from Mr. Lee’s basement when the old man finally croaked. Her fingers met the age-worn ivory, and a single chord cut through the room. And there was absolute silence. Slowly she brought life to the dark ambiance, more than life- it was purpose, excitement, the very essence of joy. She was giving rise to a gentle sonata, blooming out of the quiet, growing, searching, spreading across the captivated audience.
Danny absorbed the immaculate woman playing immaculate music, and the whole of it wounded him somewhere, in a way that only true beauty can.
He carried that wound with him for the rest of his life, in the place nearest his heart. He hummed that music while under heavy fire in Japan. He imagined that silky, blonde hair while burying his younger brother. He let her delicate fingers against rough ivory define his greatest ambitions while raising his only daughter. He let the memory of that moment bleed into every dream that ever followed, until it became something more, something absolute, something never ending.
Danny opened his eyes and looked out at the empty dirt lot before him, covered with mangled shapes and fanciful nonsense. He looked at the beautiful Marie, eyes made from asymmetrical ovals, hair in long strands that cut through mud and gravel. He looked at her jagged smile, and quietly drew himself into the soil of the Earth beside her, wishing somehow that he could stay there forever, and the music would never end.
– KURTIS –
Life in Every Breath
Kurtis is lying on a beach. Still a child. Still loved. His mother prepares tuna sandwiches in the hot afternoon sun as his father casts a line into a perfectly blue ocean- the man holds the fishing rod the way a Roman statue wields a sword. Kurtis could not be more in awe of him. His best friends, Charlie, Robin, and Christian play tag with the waves, each trying to see how close they can get without actually getting wet. Clouds drift by. The sea ebbs and flows across the sand as it has for millions of years. The little boy knows nothing of the world.
Suddenly the reel turns, Kurtis’s father struggles as he pulls in the line. The boy is fascinated by the man’s battle with nature- watching, waiting, timid and unsure as the first fins come into view. Dorsal, pectoral, teeth- eyes that are an embodiment of everything cold. It is pulled up the shore, across sand and rocks, past the footprints Kurtis made when he was still a child. He’d have thought the act was cruel, if the creature was anything but a shark.
Life is like this, thrown into a gamble in only a second- a millionth of a second. No prudence or preparation or fair warning. There was a shark, looking for food, and in an instant here it is, lying upon its deathbed. Gills rise and fall, hollow eyes dart back and forth, searching so fervently for salvation. The frightened little boy can see it now, really truly see it. Death, in its purest form. Life as it’s dangling by a thread.
Christian pokes at the creature. Robin throws sea water on it so it can be breathe. Charlie watches with curiosity. In his naivety, Kurtis convinces himself that every life can be protected- that bad things don’t have to happen in this world. After his father takes out the hook with pliers, he looks to his son.
Kurtis doesn’t wait for his dad to ask, he volunteers. With his best friends watching in awe, he carefully picks up the creature. It’s his life to save. It’s his childish innocence to preserve. He doesn’t give a damn about the shark, it's his perception of the world he’s keeping alive. He just doesn’t know it yet.