Original Fiction : My Murder Ballad (complete)

Entropy

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A bit of short fiction I just finished, looking for feedback. Enjoy

My Murder Ballad
by
Gene Hill​

There is a cemetery under the highway. In the shadow of 235 West you'll find it, right by the exit ramp. A little spot of forgotten ground that no houses stand by, fenced off in cast-iron and cramped with tombstones, just a waste of graves and industry.

There's a tree in the back, a solitary sycamore, long dead from the heat of lightning with charred bark that shines soapy in the light, where I always sit, crouched down in a crook at the base, sheltered in the shade and letting blue notes wisp slowly from my harp, whistled airs evoking epitaphs as the roar of cars above on the bridge play a bass counterpoint to the wind. This is where I always practice, the only place I can get that feel, that certain mystique of boneyards with the smell of fresh earth and flowers growing too well on unleavened mounds and cracked stones; every time you take a step past one, you can't help but look back to make sure the name on it's not yours.

Here comes the old man.

The old, old man in his black coat, resting heavily on his cane, with thorny curls ringing his head under a porkpie hat. Everything about him is constant, right down to the bouquet of posies under his arm, walking, wandering, eyes forward towards forever. Always right away to the same spot in the sixth row, the twelfth marker, leaving his flowers and whatever silent words he has for the dearly departed and then leaving, maybe just a little bit faster than he had come. . . .
* * * *​
The sun on that day was bright and cold, a surgical lamp strung up above the world that my Wayfarers spared me the worst of. I wasn't in the mood to practice. Instead I sat there in the glare, somewhere on the edge of a nap when the old man's deliberate, shuffling, step-step-cane, step-step-cane rhythm came waltzing across my mind in perfect 3/4 time. . . .

"She wants to run home to Mama/wants to run home and cry/ The flames flicker dancing wicked!/while the moon bleeds up on high/And she wants to run home to Mama!/Oh Lord she wants to run home and cry. . . ."

I didn't even notice that I had picked up my harp and started to play, stretching the weeping notes flat. . . .

"What song is that?!"

I nearly jumped out of my skin at the sound of that voice, sandpaper on aged oak. The old man stood right in front of me, his face twisted in anger. Anger, and something else. . . .

"What song is that?!"

"Um, I don't know. I think it's called 'The Ballad of Cherry somethi-"

"WHY WERE YOU PLAYING IT?!"

That was it. He was mad, but that wasn't all of it. No, it was just the mask. A mask to cover the fear. He was afraid. Terrified. I could see him shaking, his whole body shivering beneath the black wool coat and his eyes; his eyes were the kind that looked caught in a car crash. I manage to keep my voice steady when I spoke again.

"My grandfather used to sing it to me."

He just kept glaring at me with those eyes, and I was glad I had the sunglasses on. Just kept glaring and then he left without a word or explanation, left me in a jumble with the wind laughing in my ear. I had never questioned the old man until then; he had just been a shadow in my mind, one more spectre wandering in the shades of the graves and highway. . . .

What had just happened?

I was confused that day, maybe that was the reason it happened. I didn't notice my feet planting themselves one in front of the other in steady drumroll fashion, a snare drum trill that took me off my regular path. Maybe destiny had a hand in it, or karma, or God damn it! maybe I was just curious and wanted to know.

Whatever the reason, I didn't skirt the back of the graves round the north side to get to the gate that day. Instead, I found myself marching my way to the south, my heartbeat a bass rhythm in my throat that just kept stepping faster to the speed of my feet and the roaring wind around me carried me forward, forward down the sixth row, past its twelfth marker, and the screeching brakes and shattering glass of a car in the distance provided the perfect cymbal crash.

Every time you take a step past a gravestone you can't help but look back to make sure the name is not your own. It was on one made of off-gray granite covered in the ashes of dead posies that I finally found mine. . . .

Graystone Broke. Born 1918, died December 25th, 1945. There was my name. There it was, looking me in the face with a grinning skull leer, the flower's stench making me sick to my stomach. I had just found my name. All this time, all this time the old man had been bringing flowers to me. I sat there, playing the blues and he was bringing flowers to me.
* * * *​
Why had the song set him off?

I found myself at the library again. I love libraries. When I'm not playing, I'm reading. When I'm not reading, I'm sleeping. The other stuff doesn't matter. Sometimes I work, sometimes I eat, sometimes I ****, or sweat, fight on the street or even let altruistic motives get the better of me. But I'm always playing. I'm always reading. I'm always sleeping. Three beats to waltz to forever. . . .

Why had the song set him off?

The name, what was the name? I tore books from the shelf in my search. Books of songs, books of poetry, history, music theory. What was the name of the song? It had gone beyond curiosity now, become something else entirely. I needed to know. He was bringing flowers to me. . . .

Why had the song set him off?

Some part of me deep down knew there was a connection, and it was in a dog-eared copy of Songs from the 1940s that I found it, and my stomach took another blow as I looked at "The Ballad of Cherryweather Rose".

Written in 1945.

By Graystone Broke. . . .
* * * *​
I dreamt strange things that night, nightmares I would call them if not for the sense of calm I had all about me. Visions of toneless tunes put to gibberish words and songs from my past all about me. I dreamt of dancing from gravestone to gravestone, waltzing the light fantastic on marble and granite on a snowy winter night. Howling winds blew and snowflakes swirled in the dark, a million cold stars dancing in mad frenzy, a mad frenzy in the graveyard with the sound of sleigh bells in the air.

Movement in reverse, the sick sensation of backpedaling as blood trickles upward. Blood trickles upward, red lines eroding away on marble white skin towards the black. . . .

Boom. . . .

Boom. . . .

Boom. . . .

I saw it all as I stood there, stood there and watched as the gun went off. She was crying. Crying tears that froze into ice on frosted eyes as the world went on spinning it's desperate waltz and she spilled to the ground, arms flung to the side and the red blood that slowly melted the white snow looked all too black. . . .

I see Graystone Broke.

I don't know how I know it's him, but I'm sure of it. He was drunk, I could see it in his eyes bleary with tears. His black hair was mussed, pomade having lost its battle with the cold and snow. His shirt was stained with sweat and snow and tears and maybe some of the black blood. She was an angel that lay in the snow, with black wings spreading out slowly beneath her and twisted, thorny curls that blew lazily in the wind, eyes staring towards forever. Cherryweather Rose. He stood there drunk with the pistol still smoking and looked at me, looked at me with bloodstained eyes that knew the world all too well. . . .

"Hey there, kid."

It's a dream; it's only a dream which is why I think I answer.

"Hello."

He slumps down against a dead tree whose black bark shines soapy, the pistol falling from his limp fingers.
"I take it you saw?"

"Yeah."

"Damn."

My voice comes slowly too me. It's only a dream.

"Why did you do it?"

I don't think he even hears me.

"Damn. I didn't want you too see. You know, you and I have the same name?"

"I know. I saw your grave today."

"You're not from town, are you, kid? You just kinda drift around, playing where you can, trying to get that sound, don't you?"

"Yeah."

"Damn." He got up from the ground and stumbled towards me. I don't know if it was because it was a dream or something else, but I didn't smell booze on his breath; I smelled death - that boneyard smell of fresh earth and flowers growing too well. "We're just the same, you know? Just the same. GOD DAMN IT!!"

He slammed his fist into the tree, and the tears started coming again. They started coming, and I just stood there.

"Oh God, I didn't mean to hurt her! I didn't. I just wanted to know if she was really with him! I swear I didn't; the gun just went off! It just went off and. . . ."

I could feel the sun on my face, and the warm light of the dawn reminded me it was all a dream. It was all a dream that was fading away into sweat drenched sheets and gasping breaths. It was all a dream but on the edge of my mind I heard his last words.

"Things just keep repeating themselves. . . ."

There is a cemetery under the highway. In the shadow of 235 West you'll find it, right by the exit ramp. A little spot of forgotten ground that no houses stand by, fenced off in cast-iron and cramped with tombstones, just a waste of graves and industry.

This is where I always practice, the only place I can get that feel, that certain mystique of boneyards with the smell of fresh earth and flowers growing too well on unleavened mounds and cracked stones; every time you take a step past one, you can't help but look back to make sure the name on it's not yours.

Here comes the old man.

The old, old man in his black coat, eyes forward towards forever. Bringing flowers again. Bringing flowers to me. . . .
* * * *​
I wasn't crouched underneath the tree, I was standing right there. In the sixth row, at the twelfth marker, the wind blowing the sickening smell of posies my way.

"What do you want?" He spat the words like the worst invectives, but I didn't flinch. Obsession was so much stronger than fear.

"The song was called 'The Ballad of Cherryweather Rose'."

"I know that. Is that all you wanted? To show me you could remember your youth?"

I pointed down at the grave with a black gloved finger.

"It was written by him."

He eyed me carefully, trying to figure me out and once again I was glad I was wearing the sunglasses.

"So?"

A distant horn blared across the bridge and the wind died on my words. . . .

"That's my name, too."

He almost fell, stumbling backwards until he managed to catch himself on a cross. It took him a long time to say anything again. He gasped for breath and clutched his chest, I later found out, because of heart trouble.

"Wha-what do-?"

"I want to know."

"Know what?"

"About him. About me. . . ."
* * * *​
Under the tree, under the dead tree we sat and talked about the past. He had calmed down. Up above, the cars kept going, speeding by that little spot of forgotten things, the wind was a gossiping murmur. He told me his story.

"What do you want to know? About him; Graystone? Not much to tell. There's everything to tell. Only a few people knew him; only a few people really remember him. He was a musician. Couldn't sing worth a damn, but when he played guitar, you had to wonder if he'd went down the same roads as Robert Johnson.

"Do you want to know about his father? His father, Gray Stone, had no home but his shoes, blowing into whatever honky tonk on the road that would pay him five dollars and a glass of whiskey to tickle old rags on the ivories and maybe keep the rowdies from trying to rough up the waitresses too much. He was a dastardly mutt, all things told, and those spitlock curls and that rakehell grin made him more dangerous than even the drunkest bootlegger. It wouldn't be too long before a barkeep noticed his girls weren't bringing in the money because they were spending too much time with him under the sheets, and before long Gray'd be out again wandering under the stars and dodging pistol shots.

"In 1918 he met Penny Rich under the same old circumstances. But, she was different in two ways. The first was when the shots finally went flying for Gray, three slugs managed to plant themselves in his guts. The second was the little bundle of joy he left Penny to remember him by. A little bundle she named Graystone, after his father. Graystone Rich."

"Rich? I thought it was-."

"Son, it's like I told him, nobody would believe somebody wailing away like he would with a name like Rich. You're making me get ahead of myself, though."

"Sorry."

"I don't suppose you can imagine what life was like for Graystone, growing up the son of a waitress in a rough speakeasy. He was pouring beer at six and whiskey at seven, playing guitar in the bar and making ten cents a night at twelve. Several of the waitresses had made him a man by thirteen. . . ."

"Same way I grew up.

He just looked at me quietly and continued on his story.

"It was in his blood to be a rambling man. Packed up his guitar and hit the road hitching south. By '38 he was playing wherever they would let him, jamming Delta style in Mississippi barns or sitting in on swing sessions in New York.

"That was where I met him, at an Almanac Singers show we were both in the crowd for. I saw him across the way, that rakehell grin and spitlock curls and his guitar slung across his back. I don't know why, maybe it was luck or destiny or God, but for some reason I went over and began talking to him. We just, we just really hit it off. I started singing him some songs I had written and he started playing me his guitar, just pounding those strings like-"

I saw his eyes flare up again, those knife glimmers of white, and he reached at me, grabbed the lapels of my jacket. There was fever in his speech.

"You ever watched a morning glory open up in the dawn? Or opened your eyes to see your one true love looking at you with a loving smile? No, no of course you haven't. You're too young and you want to play the blues. That's what it was like, though. We were always together after that, on the road, playing where we could. Sometimes we recorded, sometimes we got booed off stage. We didn't care. We were always together, just me and him and. . . ."

That far away look towards forever.

"Her."

He didn't need to say anything else. I already knew. I didn't even notice it happening. Didn't even notice picking up my harp and starting to play, stretching the weeping notes flat...

And with a voice like sandpaper on aged oak, he sang. . . .

She wants to run home to Mama,
wants to run home and cry.
The flames flicker dancing wicked!
while the moon bleeds up on high.

And she wants to run home to Mama!
Oh Lord she wants to run home and cry.

In the graveyard by the cann'ry
where the lonely nightbirds sigh
Fire lights my pale-haired pretty!
with her eyes Morning Glory shy.

How she wishes she were with her Mama!
yes, that her eyes cannot deny.

The pistol gleams, silver shining
sparkles gleam in her sapphic eyes;
she came because I said I loved her!
murmured cheap and feeble lies.

And her eyes know horrified revelation!
Oh Lord she doesn't want to die

She snuck away through that window
where her Mother cooled pies.
In her pockets just fifteen dollars!
and her Daddies bottle of rye.

There is no need to struggle, pretty!
there is no need to even try

Now she wants to go to Mama,
whistles slow her bailful cry.
Oh my girl I think you're bleeding!
And her silent lips just beg me why?

Yes, her eyes just sorrow weeping!
oh please Mama don't let me die

Cherryweather Rose, I am so sorry
I didn't want to make you cry.
But it is too late to take it back now!
your poor heart has beaten dry.

Yes her form is prone as praying!
oh Lord, Mama she's gone and died.

Someone tell her poor, poor mother
who didn't even get to say goodbye. . . .


The song ended, and we were both lost. Lost to the past, to that dark and winding maze that we all wander and wonder. His glassy eyes gazed into the face of the wind, and I was left to my own bemusement of harmonica bars and chromatic scales. The music, it's the music we live for. I didn't know Graystone Broke, but I understand him. It's the music. It's intrinsicate to us, a sense of purpose that sends us from one note to another, finger snapping the heartbeats, one-two-three, one-two-three, a rhythm to waltz to forever. Things just keep repeating themselves. . . .

"Do you know what a murder ballad is?"

It was my turn to be shook from my reverie. The old man looked at me gently, and there was a note of resolution on his face.

"What?"

"Do you know what a murder ballad is?"

"No."

"Yes, you do. You just didn't know they were called that. Anyone who's ever hummed "Pollyanna" or "Hey Joe" has heard one."

"I take it they're-."

"Just what you think they are. Ballads about murder. They've been around forever. The kind of lurid entertainment people read the tabloids for. Graystone wrote a murder ballad once. It's why I hated him for so long. It was about her."

I saw his teeth grit and his eyes glimmered on the edge of tears. Anger, so much anger. And something else. Sorrow. The tears fell silently from eyes while the wind swirled the ashes of dead posies around our feet. The smell of the flowers made me feel sick to my stomach and into my mind came the memory of the angel with her red wings so black in the snow. . . .

"Her name was Posy. We met her in New York just before he and I headed west. She had those little rosy dimples on her cheeks and these May-green eyes, and when she spoke, it was, it sounded like. . . ."

"I know what you're talking about."

He looked at me quietly.

"No, you don't.

"We met her, and I think I fell in love with her. She fell in love with him. He was in love with the music, but she decided to come with us anyway. And that's the way it was, us three on the road. I don't know how long it was. Two years maybe. More. We were always together on the road, playing where we could, sleeping where they would let us. Just me and him and her.

"It was in November of '45, I think, when we settled down here. We had steady jobs playing a few places and just decided to take it easy for a while. Posy was still with us, and somewhere along the way, I think Graystone had started to fall in love with her, too. Lot of good that did. She had waited for him a long time, long enough I think she had burned herself out. But she tried; she tried to let him love her. She, she let me love her too. . . ."

His voice trailed off into the past again. He didn't need to say anything else. I already knew. He continued anyway.

"It was late December, round Christmas time. Graystone left with her and. . . he left with her. Said they were going for a drive out to. . . He was drinking and I swear, his eyes, his eyes were. . . I don't know where they went, but when he came back. . . only he came back. . . ."

He could barely talk through the tears.

"He, he was white as a ghost when he came in and. . . His shirt was, it was wet and I. . . blood. . . .

"I grabbed him, shook him, slapped him! I wanted to know what had happened! He didn't say anything, just kept staring straight ahead and muttering to himself, just kept muttering to himself. . . just kept muttering 'Oh God, she's bleeding. . . .

"The only thing I remember is going blind and the shock riding up my arm. Meat and bone shaking in collision, and he was on the ground. So mad I, Christ, I almost knocked his teeth out and my screams became gibberish in my rage. I wanted to know what had happened to her. And he just looked at me and I knew. . . I knew what he had done!"

He turned and looked at me, looked at me with bloodstained eyes that knew the world all too well.

"He killed her."

The cars above went screaming by. . . .
* * * *​
The old man told me a lot that day. He told me all about the time he and Graystone Broke spent together. He told me about the songs they used to play, the places they went. He told me all about Posy and her silverbell giggle, the girlish swish her skirt made when she danced. He told me about the war and the ragged faces of the soldiers coming back, the weepy-eyed widows with their lace kercheifs and the children in sailor suits saluting bravely, bravely to the dawn. He told me his name was Sammy Hayes. He told me it all.

Except how Graystone Broke died.

He wouldn't go near that subject; every time he got close he would stutter off, go around or even just stop altogether. He wouldn't tell me how he died.
* * * *​
I dreamt strange things that night, nightmares I would call them if not for the sense of calm I had all about me. Visions of toneless tunes put to gibberish words and songs from my past all about me. I dreamt of dancing from gravestone to gravestone, waltzing the light fantastic on marble and granite on a snowy winter night. Howling winds blew and snowflakes swirled in the dark, a million cold stars dancing in mad frenzy, a mad frenzy in the graveyard with the sound of sleigh bells in the air.

I dreamt about how Graystone Broke died.

It was a snowy Christmas eve. Yuletide joy and two men stood in a graveyard arguing. I couldn't hear what they were saying; it's lost, snatched by the wind. Only vague snips and snatches, pieces I try to make whole. I see the old man and he's young. I see Graystone Broke and, God help me, he's me.

What were they saying? Arguing, I heard Posy. I heard dead. Graystone was crying. He was crying. Gun. . . didn't want to hurt her. . . scare. . . it went off. . . didn't want to hurt her. . . .

She died in his arms.

They fought, fists flew and blood flowed, flowed backwards in that funny manner of dreams. The old man made young was angry, so angry. Fury that maybe even melted the snow. Graystone took it, welcomed it, the tears in his eyes and all it did was make the the old man angrier, beat him into a fevered rage. . . .

The pistol came out and the wind wailed for blood.

Boom. . . .

Boom. . . .

Boom. . . .

I saw it all as I stood there. He was crying. Tears froze into frostbite and blood as he crumpled to the ground, arms flung to the side and the red blood slowly melting the white snow looks all too black. . . .

The old man stood there holding the still smoking pistol as he looked at what he did and began to scream. Screamed and cried and slumped against a dead tree who's bark shined soapy with snow. He just sat there muttering, muttering her name, muttering "Posy" under his breath while I looked at the eyes of a dead man. . . .

And those eyes look my way.

"Hey kid."

I wished it wasn't a dream, but I talked to him anyway.

"Hi."

A burst of red spurted from one of the wounds on his chest, sending a nasty splash across his face. His hair was wild, the pomade having lost it's battle with snow and death, his spitlock curls ring his head like a thornbush. . . .

"I take it you saw?"

"Yeah."

"Damn."

He started to convulse, shaking, spasming, foaming at the mouth in his death throes. A hand went up, crooked finger, beckoned me closer. I fell down, my head by his lips and smelled that boneyard smell of fresh earth and flowers growing too well, the smell of death. His voice was only a whisper.

"He. . . he. . . ."

"He shot you, I know."

He shook his head furiously. I knew all the life he had left was about to come pouring out. It took everything I had to hear.

"He. . . told you. . . his. . . name, didn't. . . he?"

"Yeah."

He smiles.

"Things. . . just. . . keep. . . ."

He was gone. He was gone and I could feel the sun on my face, the warm light of the dawn reminding me it was all a dream. It was all a dream that was fading away into sweat-drenched sheets and gasping breaths. It was all a dream but on the edge of my mind I heard his last words and knew exactly what they were meant to be.

"Things just keep repeating themselves. . . ."
* * * *​
Why was the name important?

I was back at the library again. I wasn't playing. I wasn't reading. I wasn't sleeping. I had to know something. I couldn't decide if it was altruistic motives or something more sinister that were getting the better of me, but the waltz had become a full on foxtrot. . . .

Why was the name important?

All I could see was that man and girl lying prone in the snow, red stains spreading out so black beneath them. Red stains spreading and maybe the way they fell, maybe they might have been holding each other after death. . . .
Why was the name important?

It was in the same dog-eared copy of Songs from the 1940s that I found it, found it and at last everything finally made sense as I looked at "The Ballad of Cherryweather Rose".

Written in 1945.

By Graystone Broke.
Published by Sammy Hayes. . . .
* * * *​
There is a cemetery under the highway. In the shadow of 235 West you'll find it, right by the exit ramp. A little spot of forgotten ground that no houses stand by, fenced off in cast-iron and cramped with tombstones, just a waste of graves and industry.

There's a tree in the back, a solitary sycamore, long dead from the heat of lightning with charred bark that shines soapy in the light, where I always sit, crouched down in a crook at the base, sheltered in the shade and letting blue notes wisp slowly from my harp, whistled airs evoking epitaphs as the roar of cars above on the bridge play a bass counterpoint to the wind. This is where I always practice, the only place I can get that feel, that certain mystique of boneyards with the smell of fresh earth and flowers growing too well on unleavened mounds and cracked stones; every time you take a step past one, you can't help but look back to make sure the name on it's not yours.

Here comes the old man.

I stand by my grave once again, playing lightly on my harp to the steady time of the the old man's steps. He sees me and keeps coming, walking forward towards forever.

"Well, hello again, Graystone."

I don't speak, don't look, just keep humming bars and tunes of songs from my youth. He keeps his eye on me, watching. My sunglasses are still on. With a shrug he lays his posies down and says whatever prayers he might have. . . .

"You killed him, didn't you?"

He goes stiff as a dead tree at the statement. Stiff as a dead tree, and it takes him forever to turn around. . . .

"How did you know?"

"He didn't mean to do it. It was an accident. But she died. And you killed him."

He's furious. He's terrified. His scream sounds feeble on the wind.

"HOW DO YOU KNOW?!"

"I woke up this morning and discovered something. There are no records or recordings of Graystone Broke ever playing 'The Ballad of Cherryweather Rose'. In fact, all he did was get credit for writing the song. Posthumously. When I saw that, I knew Graystone Broke didn't write the song. Someone else did. Then I saw who published it. Sammy Hayes."

I take the glasses off and my eyes glare into him like knives. He doesn't say anything and doesn't have to. I know. Pointing the finger is just a ceremonial gesture. . . .

"You."

He falls down to his knee's and starts crying. I turn my back on him.

"I, I just hated him so much! I loved her! I made him take me to where it happened and, and I could feel the pistol. . . weighing down on my belt! I killed him and. . . Oh God!"

He breaks off into sobs and I turn back and look at the sad wreck crumpled on the ground at my feet.

"You know, there was just one thing I couldn't figure out. He killed her, and you killed him. So, why did you give him credit for writing the song?"

He smiles a sad smile through the tears and looks at me.

"Why did I do it? Because it was his. The song wasn't about Posy. 'Cherryweather Rose' was about Graystone Broke. It was his murder ballad. I loved Posy very much, but. . . I also loved him."

"Oh."

We don't say anything for a long time after that. Just sit watching the sun sink down and let him cry, playing the part of priest to his penitent sinner. Finally he stops, calms down. The cars go by slowly and the wind wanes.

"Are you going to turn me in to the police?"

The sun keeps sinking lower and lower and I sigh.

"Turn you in? No. I'm not going to turn you in."

I look back and see the old tree, it's bark shining soapy in the dying light. In the background the highway is just a black stain spreading out against the red sky filled with white clouds. . . .

"You know, for a long time, I've wanted to play the blues. Not that **** they play on the radio these days. The real blues. It's why I came here to practice. I thought I was getting the feel. But I wasn't. I never did. I didn't have anything to be blue about. After today though, I think I'll finally be able to play."

He smiles a little.

"I'm glad."

The bang isn't loud, just the sharp retort of a heart's last beat before the lead slug turns it to smoke. He falls back without a cry or even a noise, lies there on the ground, arms flung to either side. If it wasn't for the red stain spreading out from beneath his body, you would think he was just taking a nap, as the wind gently blows the thorny curls that ring his head and the cars above go screaming by.

The hole is already dug; I can bury him whenever I want. I should get moving. I just stand there, just stand there watching the red stain grow. The sun is gone, gone down beneath the horizon as I pull out my harp and start to play. I want to play the blues, but in the shadow of the highway, watching those red stains grow, everything seems very black. . . .
 
Last edited:

compound

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Joined
Feb 28, 2005
Messages
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Location
Metro Manila, Philippines
Honestly, the plot was somewhat predictable. Nevertheless, the actual writing -- the mode of story-telling used -- made it a worthwhile read.

I really appreciated the way the theme of cycles and continuity -- history repeating itself -- was actually reflected in the structure of the story.

You were able to capture the dreary mood of the present-day scenes as evocatively as the more vibrant, raucous WW2-era flashbacks.

Likewise, I felt that you did a good job balancing the various ways people learn about history: through book research, folk mythology, passing on stories in the oral tradition, and ultimately, the murder ballad itself.

My immediate gut-reaction interpetation of the old man's statment about the true subject of the ballad was that there was some unspoken Brokeback Mountain-esque stuff going on between Graystone and Hayes. I'm not sure if that was your intention, but that's the impression I got.

All in all, a wonderful effort. I look forward to any other original fiction you have planned. You really ought to post on the site more (in general, I mean, but especially in the Fic forum) -- you've got plenty of wonderful insights, man.
 

Entropy

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Joined
May 23, 2005
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My immediate gut-reaction interpetation of the old man's statment about the true subject of the ballad was that there was some unspoken Brokeback Mountain-esque stuff going on between Graystone and Hayes. I'm not sure if that was your intention, but that's the impression I got.

It was supposed to be intentionally ambiguous. Just part of my love for wordplay sneaking through.

All in all, a wonderful effort. I look forward to any other original fiction you have planned. You really ought to post on the site more (in general, I mean, but especially in the Fic forum) -- you've got plenty of wonderful insights, man.

I'm going to try posting more. The semesters finally over so a lot less of my time is being eaten up.
 

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