A few years ago I took a comic book idea I’d developed with illustrator-extraordinaire Nathan Fox, ate it like a pure and good strawberry, and yielded upon the world (i.e. no one, really) a brand-spanking new and horrid novel. Nathan still bugs me that he wants to read it. But I’d rather he read my high school diary.
You see, it’s a Nanowrimo novel. Nanowrimo is a project that asks writers to fill the blank page with something resembling words throughout the month of November. If even 10% of the books written were as bad as mine then I assure you that the Doomsday Clock, out of spite, deducted a minute from our collective lives. In fact, with every Nanowrimo book written an angel loses its wings. That’s what I heard, at least. So I signed up.
I called it Repo! With an exclamation point. Because it’s not just Repo. It’s Repo! It ended up as a month’s worth of turned out excrement, with chunks of brilliance distributed unevenly throughout (for those who bother to dig for it — not advisable).
But the premise is cool. An Iraq War vet comes home to find that the country he fought for is in the middle of an orgy of buying crap. The lack of priorities slaps him on the back of the head like a condescending grandparent. It just so happens that the vet comes from a family of repo men. And he’s the best repo of all of them. He ran to the army to escape his asshole dad but now it’s time to rejoin the family business!
A little bit Die Hard, a little bit James Bond a little bit People vs Larry Flynt; it was a blast to write. And a hangover to read.
For this year’s Nanowrimo I’m considering a second draft. I’m not sure I have the stomach to lift the pile from the hole in the ground and feel for the good stuff with my nice, clean fingertips. We’ll see.
To begin, whiskey please!
Oh yeah, here’s the first chapter. For posterity. And for Nathan! Enjoy buddy. Or don’t. Either way, this is all you’ll ever see — of the first draft…
You can read the chapter in the widget below, or you can read it on the web page underneath.
Lots of friends die on you, but not many die together in front of you, arguing as if it would come to anything. There are lots of ways to measure a life, but friendship is the one metric that always makes sense. To Jack Manhattan, a kid from Manhattan, Kansas who hated his father so much he went to Iraq, well, friends meant a whole mess more than anything else.
Actually, Henry and Charlie were just about everything to him.
…had the hell beaten out of him regularly by a mother who also kicked his dad’s ass every alternating Tuesday. It was a tradition around the house. He’d come home from work, get out his beer, and just wait for the broomstick on the back of his head. He didn’t even fight it after 9 years. Actually he quit fighting once Charlie was born. Better to teach the kid how to behave around momma when it was his turn. Charlie was on an every-other-day routine through 16 years.
When he was 12, he met Jack at locker 73 in Manhattan High, on Spencer Hill overlooking nothing.
“Fuck you looking at?” Jack asked.
“Yer Charlie Cook, huh?”
“You know who I am?”
“Everyone knows who you are.”
Jack had the most famous father in town. Swede Manhattan, of the Manhattan clan, from which the town of Manhattan got its name and its soul, much to the citizens’ distress. Swede owned the local repo business. He’d repo’d from just about everyone in town by the time he was 21. That meant two things. One, everyone hated him. Two, he had everyone’s number – i.e. he owned them – barrette to wedding rock. Being the son of Swede in high school meant you didn’t have any friends, except the ones whose parent’s owed Swede much more than money.
“You almost died right?”
“ I heard yer momma almost killed you last year.”
“So she did almost kill you.”
“No. She did kill me.” (more…)