My first novel, DARLING, will be released soon from Bad Moon Books. To celebrate, I got thoroughly drunk, thrown in jail, shived, married to a fellow inmate, and then released on good behavior.
I’ve also created a new page on this site devoted to DARLING. But my parole officer suggested that I place a preview of the novel up here as well and I thought that was a swell idea.
Below is the opening to DARLING. I hope you enjoy it.
The man in apartment 333 stopped scrubbing. He rinsed the chemicals from his hands and scanned the bathroom. It wasn’t clean enough (it could never be clean enough), but it would do. The cracks separating the tiles were the worst, but the bleach had worked well.
In the kitchen he rooted around on his hands and knees with an old toothbrush. Confident that the hidden dirt had been exposed, he swept and mopped again. He scrubbed every dish to a shine. He rubbed the silverware down with an expensive metal cleaner. He packed his wife’s remains into a large garbage bag. He cleaned the windows.
He stopped long enough to stare at his hands. White spots scattered across patches of reddened skin, a road map of the cleaning fluids he had used. His fingers were raw and bled around the nails. His palms burned from the bleach and the knot of muscle at the base of his thumbs screamed at him. He supposed he was finished with the apartment.
He sat on the couch and pulled the checkbook from his suit. He wrote a check for the next month’s rent and drew a smiley face next to his signature. The check went into an envelope along with his keys.
He left his apartment, garbage bag in tow, and climbed into the elevator at the end of the hall. He mashed a button with his thumb and the doors rattled shut. The box threatened to break apart as it descended.
The shaking stopped and the doors creaked open. He stepped out, slid the envelope into the superintendent’s mail slot, and left by the back door.
Under the yellow light of the porch he felt disoriented. His head swam. Shadows writhed at the corners of his vision.
It passed and he stared into the night. Ahead of him, past the tacky lawn furniture and broken propane grill, the grass grew wild.
The wind danced through the field and praised him with dry, rustling words. He brushed his hand through the waist high growth. It was damp and cool.
He removed his jacket, folded it, and placed it on a lawn chair. His shirt followed, then his shoes. Socks. Pants. His boxer shorts were last. He rolled them into a ball that he slid inside one of the shoes. He placed the bag next to his clothes, his wife collapsing to one side.
The breeze came to him, took his hand, and led him in its dance. He smiled and walked naked through the field.
The supermarket rising from the grass was a black void absorbing the moonlight. It wasn’t until he was close that he could make out the cracked and vine covered facade, could read the faded nonsense spray-painted onto its side.
Broken pavement bit into his foot. One of the parking lot’s busted lights flickered to life over him. He stood there for a long while, staring into the blackness behind dusty glass doors.
He took a step forward. The doors slid apart along broken mechanical tracks. His view of the shadows was unhindered.
Without looking back, he stepped inside. The doors screeched shut behind him.
The light in the parking lot flickered once and went black.
Across the field, Raynham Place was quiet. His apartment sat, clean and empty, and waited for its next occupant.
Brad C. Hodson is a writer living in Los Angeles. His new novel, DARLING, is available from Bad Moon Books. Check out the Bibliography page to see where you can read his short fiction or watch some films he’s written.