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DESERT SONS (Mark Kendrick)

Guest rusticmonk86

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Guest rusticmonk86

Well . . . I always hated writing book reports. And now I like them even less. So, because this won't count for my grade, I am going to post an excerpt from the first chapter.

Desert Sons was one of the best books I've ever read. It was very carefully written, the charecters are complex and the story is completely capturing. Great love story.

The excerpt is in my next post. You can find this book anywhere, pretty much.

I took the excerpt from: http://www.mark-kendrick.com/

Link to reviews and excerpt: http://www.mark-kendrick.com/desert%20sons.htm

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Guest rusticmonk86


Ryan St. Charles woke up with a terrible headache. He then became aware of his nose, his upper lip, and his left elbow. It?s true, he thought as he opened his eyes, I?m still alive.

Only half-conscious in the ambulance as he was being driven to the hospital, he nonetheless recalled seeing two EMTs hovering over him. He remembered blood being all over his steering wheel and his hands. The last thing he recalled was being stretched out on a gurney which was going down a hallway before he went unconscious again. Now he recalled blood being all over his favorite pair of jeans, and, in the semi-dark hospital room, he realized he no longer had them on. He was sure they didn?t save them or the nice shirt Crawford bought him last month. Knowing that made him curiously sad and angry at the same time. Yet, try as he might, he couldn?t remember exactly what happened to him.

The stark hospital room was quiet in the middle of the night. The silence was as annoying as the pain. He moved his left arm and found it in a sling. Judging that it wasn?t in a cast, he figured there were no broken bones. With his free hand, he touched his forehead at his hairline. As he explored with his fingers, he found that it had been shaved down to the scalp in a wide area. There was some sort of bandage covering it. Although his head hurt like hell, he had to get up and see what he knew were stitches underneath.

He pushed the sheets away and slowly moved his legs over the side. As he rose upright his head hurt even more, so he stayed put for a moment. Outside the window to his right, it was dark. He glanced at a clock on the wall next to the window. It read two thirty-three. The floor was cold as he rested his bare feet on the linoleum, and then headed for the bathroom. Wearing nothing but a standard green hospital gown, he felt a little embarrassed, but the other patient in the room was fast asleep, so his embarrassment was short-lived.

He took a peek at the old man who lay in the bed nearer the door behind a semi-parted curtain. A tiny lamp clamped to a metal rack next to his bed cast a feeble light across his right side. His sparse white hair was in disarray and it looked like he hadn?t shaved in a couple of days. Two IVs hung next to the bed. One of the lines trailed conspicuously to tape at the crook of his elbow. It silently testified that the man was worse off than he was just now. The yellowish-brown bruises beneath the translucent tape stood out at him and made him woozy as he looked away and continued to the bathroom. He was glad his injuries only made him feel as if he?d been in a fight and nothing more. He slowly shut the door behind him in the harsh, sterile bathroom and flipped on the light. It hurt his eyes, and as they adjusted, he looked in the mirror. What he saw did little to help soothe his feelings of cold and isolation.

Seventeen-year-old Ryan had medium length, layered, almost jet-black hair parted on one side. Although the crowd he hung out with wore their hair decidedly longer, he preferred his shorter. Now a large patch of it above his left eyebrow was shaved down to his pale white scalp. He inspected the bandage covering part of his forehead and slowly peeled away one side of it to reveal ten neatly spaced stitches along a slightly curved gash. Surprisingly it didn?t hurt too much when he touched them. He then carefully pressed the tape back into place.

He tilted his head back to look at his nose. It was swollen and flecks of dried blood fell into the sink as he ventured a finger to one nostril. He touched his lip and winced as he pressed. Even his gums hurt. Luckily, all his teeth were intact.

Ryan?s dark brown eyes, deep set, with long black lashes, were a stark contrast to his pale skin. The mostly cloudy climate of his home, here in Crescent City on the northern California coast, wasn?t conducive to a tan. Now his face was even paler, except for the shiner now prominent around his left eye. That explained why he could barely open it, he now realized.

The ill-fitting hospital gown did him no justice. At five-foot ten inches and 160 pounds, he was of medium build, but wasn?t particularly muscular. Regardless, he had wide shoulders and well-defined chest and abs, due to only minor body fat. He would normally have felt horny examining his virtually naked body in front of the mirror. Yet, now, he couldn?t feel anything but despair and stupidity.

It was beginning to come to him now. Horniness was what had started the whole mess in the first place. In an attempt to get back at Crawford Grant, the man he?d been seeing his entire senior year, and end his continuous desperation about their secret relationship, he had wrecked his prized vintage Chevelle. He had hoped he would be killed in the wreck. Unfortunately, he was still alive and now had to face what he had done. And Muh, his grandmother, was surely going to throw him out now. She had warned him enough times about all the tickets he had gotten over the last year. Now that he had wrecked his car she was sure to be extra angry. And what did he have to show for his rash decision? Stitches, bruises, his elbow, a black eye, a swollen lip, no car, and now a sinking feeling that he had lost everything. It was the awful feelings he was trying to escape in the first place and now he not only had managed to compound them, but also was still right in the middle of them all.

The quandary he had lived through these last nine or so months just wouldn?t end, he thought. To make it even worse, he had wrecked the car on purpose. He had gunned the engine just enough to miss a hairpin curve coming back from Frank Gaviota?s house, a man he considered his friend, but still couldn?t trust with his secret, damn it! He was angry that he was too scared to tell Frank what had been going on between he and Crawford since the end of his junior year, how the fights with his grandmother had become more frequent, how he had alienated his brother, and how his so-called girlfriend wanted more than he was willing to deliver. He had wanted to tell Frank everything, but just couldn?t. It was a huge, jumbled mess, and every step of the way he had gotten more entangled in it. If he hadn?t been so scared or stupid he wouldn?t be looking at his bruised and cut body now. The mixture of sadness and anger swirled inside him making him sway as he stood. He gripped the edge of the sink to keep his balance. His headache was growing more intense.

It was all so disgusting. He couldn?t even commit suicide properly. And the thought of having tried it for the third time, and failing, weighed on him. He had been good at keeping his emotions in check but now found himself getting teary-eyed. Things just had to change, God damn it!

Graduation was a month away and despite an almost failing grade in Composition and two C-averages in other classes, he knew he could pull through. He wasn?t dumb, it was just that Composition was his last class of the day. He usually didn?t do the homework and occasionally just skipped the class altogether so he?d have time to see Crawford. He looked at his wrists as he thought about Crawford. The abrasions had started to fade but were still noticeable. I?m sure the EMTs saw them, he thought. I wonder if they could tell they were from handcuffs? Crawford?s handcuffs. Crawford the handsome, Crawford the sex god, Crawford the blackmailer.

He opened the bathroom door, flipped off the light, and slowly shuffled back to his bed. His chart was hanging on the end of it from a peg. He pulled it off with his good hand, rested it on the mattress, and flipped open the top. He hazarded a look down the sheet trying to make out what he could. He had no idea what it all meant. The only two words he could make out were ?observation? and ?concussion?. Well, that explained his headache. He flipped the top back down and slowly replaced it on the peg. He then sat on the edge of the bed for a moment. His throat was dry and felt sore. A small blue plastic jug of water sat on a stainless steel wall-hung table next to the bed and he reached for it. A folded piece of paper with his name on it in his grandmother?s handwriting sat conspicuously upright next to it. He looked at it from the corner of his open eye as he drank. Afraid to read it, he hesitated, knowing what it would say. It could only be one thing. He knew he shouldn?t have, given how he felt, but he opened it and read anyway. It said exactly what he expected:


The police report was clear. You were going too fast again and they?re taking your license this time. I?ve talked with your Uncle Howard about coming to get you after the court date. It?s best if you live with him now. We?ll talk about this later.

Love, Muh.

Her handwriting was crimped and smaller than normal, giving away her tenseness. At least she said ?Love, Muh,? he thought.

His chin trembled and he forcibly made it stop as he read it again. In a way, it was perfect. Howard was his convenient way out. But his uncle lived in the desert way down in southern California. Surrounding Yucca Valley was nothing except endless sand and rocks. He had seen the photos and heard him describe it before. Yet, it seemed the only way to escape from Crawford, end the girlfriend lie he had gotten himself into, and remove himself from the endless confrontations he had had with Muh.

He crumpled the note and tossed it into a small waste can to his right. He then eased himself back onto bed and rested his head on the pillow. He grasped the call button at the end of the black cord near his pillow and pressed firmly with his thumb. Maybe a nurse would have something for his aching head.

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