It’s a rare thing, to constantly read a author’s work and then sit for days on end, wishing you had thought of that yourself. Wishing you had even the slightest bit of fortitude to even attempt to write it yourself.
It’s not such a rare thing, however, if you write with a group of authors like the members of Snutch. And it happens quite a bit, with a particular writer, Kurt Dinan (pronounced Die-nan. Just in case you weren’t sure.)
His stories have this nasty habit of luring me in all nice-like, before turning on me like a rabid dog, chewing me up and spitting me out. I could blame it on my own naivety, my insane desire to hide my eyes from the ugly truth of the world, fixating instead on the all that is good and wonderful and right. But that would be bullshit. It’s him. Kurt Dinan. It’s his writing that does that, not my puppy-dog outlook on life.
***Note*** Those of you that know me, might be thinking this very moment, Puppy dog outlook??? Who the F is she talking about??? But it’s true. I may hide it well beneath my tough girl exterior, but it’s there all the same. ***End Side Note***
And every time it happens, every time I’m socked in the face with an unconceivable twist of events, or a phenomenal phrase that turns his great story into a F-ing Fantastic story, I feel that pull of envy, that tinge of self-doubt that tells me I will never, EVER be as good as him. Even now, after writing with him for five years and counting, he still manages to do it, and his story, The Darkness Game, is no exception.
It is a great honor to work with each and every one of the writer’s of Snutch Labs and when you read this excerpt below, you’ll get an idea of what I am talking about.
Breaking into the Keller’s was when I first felt the ripping. It was a tiny tear at first,
almost imperceptible, like a scratch at the back of my throat, but deeper down.
That Thursday I called in sick, from the dark of my closet nonetheless. When the Kellers pulled into the Pizza Tower lot a few minutes short of seven, Gibb and I pulled away from our spot in a dark area of the lot and drove toward their house.
“We’re not really doing this, are we?” Gibb said.
“Rule one,” I said. “Anything goes.”
The evening was cloudy and threatening rain. Gibb was so full of adrenaline he could
barely keep the car on the road. I had my shoes on the dash. I wore a Lycra red tank top and running shorts that bunched up against my hips. In case anything went wrong, I’d told Gibb we’d look like we were out for a run.
We parked a block from the Kellers at Orchard Hills Elementary. I got out, and on the
pretext of stretching my hamstrings, doubled over at the waist in front of Gibb so he’d follow. He ran beside me down the street, his hands covering his crotch.
“The key to the backdoor is under the planter on the deck. We’ll be in and out in five
minutes. Find something small,” I said.
Once we turned onto the Keller’s street, I scanned for anyone who might be outside. No one was. We passed the Keller’s house, then slowed, stepping onto the edge of the lawn and heading around the side. I’m pretty sure the moment I stepped off the sidewalk was when I felt the first rip happen.
The plan went off like I’d hoped – the key’s location, a five minute visit, no one home.
What surprised me was how easily I handled it. I’d half-expected myself to chicken out, maybe even having Gibb take me to church afterward so I could talk to Ray, our youth minister. But I didn’t feel bad about what I’d done. It was like I was traveling down a path that had been rough at first, but the farther I’d walked, the more assured my footing became.
We didn’t talk again until we were back on the road, well away from the house. Gibb
couldn’t stop checking the rearview mirror.
“What did you get?” I asked.
Gibb pulled a folded-up picture from the waist of his shorts. In the photo are Mr. and
Mrs. Keller, probably in their early twenties, all smiles as they emerge from the church door to a shower of rice.
Gibb checked behind us again, then stared out the window at the passing streetlights in the dark.
“I was going to pick something dumb like a spoon or pencil, nothing that really counted. But then I saw the wedding album and found this. Something about it pisses me off. Maybe it’s that they look so happy and are still together, going to family dinners with their kids at the stupid Pizza Tower every Thursday. So I took it.”
“God, that’s shitty, Gibb,” I said. I’d been swearing more and more, and finding I’d liked
it. “That picture is probably irreplaceable.”
There was no judgment. If anything, I was envious.
“Pull in there,” I said.
Gibb parked out of the glow of the lights in the lot behind the church my family attended. I crawled in the back seat, the satin of my running shorts brushing his cheek as I went.
“Come here,” I said.
Gibb climbed in back and I lifted my hips and nodded towards my shorts, which came off easily. Gibb was still so high from everything the next day that he never thought to ask what I’d stolen.
There's more. Much more. And it only gets better. If you've already ordered, well, you're halfway there. If you haven't, go here. Yeah, I know I'm pretty demanding. But do it anyway. You'll have long forgotten my bossy attitude, once you turn that first page.