Tuesday, July 7, 2009

ONE LAST DRINK: Clarity of Night Flash Fiction Entry


I greatly desired the man’s death, even imagined it; he could not be suffered to live. You, who so well know me, know it was not covetousness, as my wife ventured to suggest- that she should utter such against her own husband! Her slander against me proved the poison in the man’s deranged poem that haunted and taunted, incessant, unceasing.

I had his acquaintance years prior but dreamed not of meeting again. Such simplicity, such justice in the path set before me as my eyes knew him in the street. He wore the greyness that came on him in his younger days, marking the madness consuming his soul. Madness he inflicted upon us all with his writings. Nevermore. You must understand my course predetermined. What just man, sane man, could deny it? Not you, certainly.

He had a weakness, this supposed genius of our age.

"Mr. Poe! Mr. Poe! How luckily met!" He could not guess my revulsion at touching the vessel of such insanity as dwelt within him.


"The very same! Join me. You must not walk alone on Election Day in Baltimore. Here we are at Gunner’s Hall. Come, have a drink. I’ll see you safely home."

"I should not. I am-I should not."

"You cannot deny me the pleasure of raising a glass together in celebration of your accomplishments. It is many years passed. Come, one drink."

"Ahh. One last drink." So you see, it truly was he, not I, that chose his manner of death.


  1. For info on the Clarity of Night contest click here

    Basically, 250 words or less inspired by the photo.

  2. laurel, for a c.o.n. virgin, this is great work :)

  3. Awesome job, Laurel. Almost feels like the beginning of something as well as a complete story on its own. Maybe something to explore there (after you do more of that dratted editing you already have on your plate, yes?).

  4. Thanks, Sarah!

    In theory, it is the beginning of the story of Poe's death as told by Poe so it would probably be a short story. (Think "Cask of Amontillado" or "The Tell-Tale Heart.")

    It was really a tough call for me because unless someone has read Poe recently enough to remember him I'm not sure they'd get it. I employed a writing style that is not currently at all popular.

    Still, it was fun and that's part of being a writer, right? Sometimes not everybody gets it and at some point you have to trust your reader.

    Back to the dratted editing.

  5. Thanks for stopping in to read it, Adisha! It's not at all what/how I normally write, BTW. As I said, it is intended to read like Poe's death as he would have written it. Since no one really knows what happened to him I mixed known fact and speculation. It was fun to do.

  6. I'm finally here. And I'll surely stay.

    You have some useful links up there on your sidebar for 'future prospects' :D :D

    Now, I'll fool around at your place. Hope you don't mind. :P

    PS: lol'd on you 'About me' :P

  7. Aniket:

    Yay! Welcome. It's a little boring because this is really more of a journal and place for long distance friends to check in about my novel so I don't have to tell them, "No. It's not published yet." A week after sending a query.

    It feels like it's morphing a little, though. I did not anticipate having actual "followers" and posts are including more "this is what's up at our house today" stuff. Who knows. Maybe I'll get a wild hair and post some sort of reader participation activity eventually.

  8. Wow. Getting published already!

    I did the same thing you are doing for about 8 months. Then I entered the last CoN contest and deleted all personal posts and turned over a new leaf.

    Have been writing fiction ever since and am soo loving it.

    Guess, I can take a tip or two from you about getting published when my time comes.

  9. NO NO NO! NOT getting published. Haven't even started querying. But since most of my friends have no idea how this works they find out I write (because that boy I married can't keep it to himself dammit) and they want to know when it will be on the shelves.

    Then I explain that getting published is like winning American Idol and I am in line for the open call. And even if it all goes swimmingly it would be three years from now before they might see my book somewhere.

    Sorry. I need to work on clarity in writing!

  10. Laurel:
    Quite a different style of writing. I enjoyed riding into the past -- Edgar Allan Poe tradition -- I had goose bumps in my childhood nights, helped polish my English though. Not much blood-red ink from Teacher...:) YL

  11. Thanks, Disiderata! Fun memories of Poe in childhood as well.

  12. I think I have read all the entries to date and I must just say that I particularly like yours. Haven't the foggiest why it is better to me than others but it just is.

    So there.

    Four Dinners x

  13. Preacherman:

    Thanks so much! You know what would be fun? If we had a reader's choice on best comments. I have been stalking yours all over CoN.

    We should get together for a drink sometime. I'll pour;)

  14. Oooh, I'll be very careful who I drink with after reading this! Love his justification at the end.

    btw, thanks for the lovely comments you left on my entry.

  15. Excellent writing...I like the writer's voice that speaks of the age...not the sort of writing seen these days but just the sort that has always appealed to me...

    Well done.

  16. Patsy:

    Thanks for coming over! I really enjoyed your entry.

    Rebecca: Thanks so much! I took a big gamble on the writing. First because it's flat out ballsy to try to imitate Poe and second because I knew a lot of the readers probably haven't read Poe or about Poe in years and might not realize what I was trying to do even if I pulled it off. Still, most people seem to be peripherally aware of some of the details of his death and I hoped that the subject would jog memories of American Lit classes...

    At any rate it's always a risk if you hang your hat on a concept, right? The story and the writing have to pull it off.

  17. Laurel,

    Talk about a Reader's Choice on comments... yours would win my #1 vote, hands down. Come to think of it, my #2 and #4 votes, too. I'm not sure who would be #3, but you're in the running for that, too.

    As of this moment, I am now adding your blog (even though it's "what's happening at our house" blather) to my feed reader. That's what Jason wants from his contests--community growing organically. I have to admit that I was only 90% in love with your Poe story, but I am 100% in love with every one of your comments. And I've enjoyed watching Aniket try to keep up with you. I bet you didn't even know you were torturing the poor lad, did you? ;-)

  18. @pjd & @Laurel,

    Oh she knew it, alright.

    But I like other mortals go to work and sleep, while she used to keep on reading during the day and her equally evil twin sister used take up reading in the nights. She don't fool me, no. :D

  19. pjd: Thanks for coming on over! I had the MOST fun reading everyone's work. Yours came in at 100% for me.

    I knew when I put this piece together that it was a risk, esp with the writing style being so dated and opposite of everything currently embraced in lit. I just hoped that people would be familiar enough with Poe to "get it." Sounds like you did so that's good enough for me!

    Aniket, how did you know about Salome? We keep her in the basement until dark. She reads faster than I do since she has nothing better to do.

  20. Poe is great. I love his style of Romanticism, although not as much as the British Romantics. Not sure I buy into the whole death-as-transcendence motif. You did a good job of capturing the essence of his style here. I've enjoyed reading through your blog. Good luck with the book publishing, it's a tough bottle to uncork. ;)

  21. Thanks, Scott!

    Nineteenth century lit in general is not my fave but there is definitely some amazing writing to be found in the heap. I think that was the best thing about AS Byatt's Possession. The pieces that were supposed to have been written by long dead authors rang with the rhythm and syntax of the time.

    I usually like my English a little older. As in Middle to Metaphysical. There's something to be learned and appreciated in absolutely all of it, though.