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Terreson Profile
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Gray Fox


I am on a roll. Another prose thing from the fall of '82.


           Gray Fox

He was there and I didn’t recognize him. He was there in the night, in the first-born Everglades now ribboned with asphalt, and in the shortened arc of the parking lot’s lamplight. He was leaning against the front of a convenience store nursing a beer, and he was waiting.

It was in a night’s full summer, and a Saturday, when the air was alive to marsh life cooling, easing, nocturnally breathing. We were two hours from home, already sun drunk from a day spent fishing in the Gulf, and we were stopping in for more beer. He began to talk to us as we got out of our truck, smooth and innocent, and I got taken for a fool.

He began by talking about his wife, and how he didn’t know if he should go home. He had been out for so long, he said, riding and drinking, that home was now as chancy for him as taking on the rest of the night alone. And so he drank his beer and he offered one to me. I took his beer, thinking it would be the friendly thing to do. He then called himself the Gray Fox, and I still didn’t see behind his mask. Instead, I laughed.

His eyes were cloudy and pig skin closed. His t-shirt covered an aging biker’s belly. His jeans were worked in grease and dirt. And I laughed.

He looked at my laughing, and he walked over to his bike. Still holding his beer, he came down on the kicker and hard. He let the engine purr. He then said again that they called him the Gray Fox, and that his bike of a couple of thousand c.c.’s could speed at 198.7 miles per hour. He also said he would take me down the road.

He said he would take me down the road and show me how it runs. A flashing light in the night and we would be gone, he said, at 198.7 miles per hour. We would be gone, and he invited me to hold on. Which was when my smiling face found another place to keep.

He said, let’s go, and his eyes grew brighter. I could already feel the night’s air spliced into a wake trailing behind us, the cooling night air stirring in the swamp. He said, - come on, I’ll show you how it’s done, ‘cause I’m the Gray Fox and I run at 198.7 miles per hour. – He gripped down on the throttle then and he wound it back. The night’s air broke just a little when he did. His arm flexed, his body grew true, and his eyes became sharp. And they were turning green, cold fluorescent green, which was when I saw he was the Gray Fox, and that this would be his last ride and his best. At one-ninety-eight-point-seven miles per hour, he would slice the time, clear its rim, and he would take his bike below the cooling breeze to where the air was dry ice burning through the skin. And so I said no to the Gray Fox. And a summer’s breeze came between us, breathing down to come between us.

Terreson

(an old prose-poem that once made the rounds of C’ville’s more literary bars.)
Jan/17/2010, 12:10 am Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Gray Fox


Tere,

A prose poem, you say? Yeah, I can see that. It works for me. I like this piece. The mysteriousness of it, the implicit danger in an ordinary place. The gray fox lurking at a convenient store (love the irony of that). Not having to look over your left shoulder to see him, but facing him up-close and personal in his dirty jeans and beer breath, eyes green with envy, lusting after the living. At least that is some of what I take from the story. You posted this here for critique. No nits from me. Thanks for the read.

BTW, how did this go over in those long ago C’ville’s literary bars?

Last edited by Katlin, Jan/22/2010, 7:02 pm
Jan/22/2010, 5:46 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Gray Fox


Thanks again Katfriend. And, yes. Right then, that night, I knew I was face to face with Death himself. Back then that is how I saw him, metaphorically speaking. Now adays I picture him as a hateful old man standing in the back of the audience. Interesting contrast.

About the C'ville bar rounds the piece enjoyed. That year there was a young man staying with me, my then wife, and her three teen-age girls. He was between homes and work places. He would come in from a bar, see me writing, and finally asked to read what I was up to. This is what I showed him. He said he wanted a copy, which I made for him. The next thing I knew he was going from bar to bar and reciting it. I wasn't much into bars in those days. But the report had it that the thing read well.

Tere
Jan/22/2010, 6:59 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Gray Fox


Tere, I enjoyed the contrast between this piece and the other two you posted. This one is still in the realm of myth but very modernized and more in keeping on one level, I suspect, with your rock 'n roll novel.
Jan/22/2010, 7:05 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Gray Fox


Again, very perceptive. The R n R novel came four years after the Gray Fox thing. It too involved a motorcycle scene. Only then the cyclist is the N himself. He chickened out before he got to 198.7. He pulled back on the throttle at about 110. As you say, more modern.

Tere
Jan/22/2010, 7:15 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: Gray Fox


Terreson,

Sounds like a Kerouac type story. Very modern, actually. Thom Jones was writing stuff like this profitably about ten or fifteen years ago, later than your story in '82. Don't know what happened to Thom Jones; last I heard he was working on a novel, after a very successful run as a short story writer. Published in the glossies. Your own story here is very effective; if you've lived any type of action life, which I have at times (but not greatly (caveat) -- soldier, fire fighter for the U.S. Forest Service, small plane pilot training -- you eventually come across a crazy who will dare you. The key is that you have to learn to do things on your own terms, not theirs. You wisely demurred, whether you are looking at it from a mythological viewpoint or from the practical viewpoint. You did an excellent job of fusing the mythological with the practical. You can feel the danger at the same time that you are almost seduced by the mythology of the thing. Good work. (Did your novel you mention have a linear development a la Kerouac or was it more Hemingway with a love story thrown in? If I recall correctly, I think Kerouac also had a love story, though not as prominently as Hemingway). Sorry I got off on a tangent. Your story got my imagination going. And also kind of thinking I should have done this -- or that when I was younger. Your mind races back. Your body carries the memores. Thanks, Zak
Feb/9/2010, 1:28 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Gray Fox


Thanks, Zakman, for reading and commenting. You always make me think: about motive and intention, and about execution.

I would love to swap stories about the action type jobs as you call them. Certainly your fire fighter job beats the hell out of any action job I've had. But I think maybe I have out-Plimtoned George, or until I hit the age of fifty and realized it was time to stop messing around and get a job with some security. And I get what you mean: you do have to take on these Apocolypse Now type challenges from time to time, at least relatively.

About your Kerouac/Hemingway question. While making the novel I came upon something Hemingway said that sharply surprised me. He said he considered the 19th C French novelist, Gustave Flaubert, his master. I've always thought Flaubert a master too. The decision was then clear and easy. I would use Flaubert as my model, which I did. In one way the decision cost me. There was one rejection slip that read: excellent writing but not enough action.

But since you've asked I must tell you what cemented the novel for me. I came across it after the first draft, something Van Gogh wrote to his brother in a letter, dated Sept. 1888, shortly before he died:

""We shall end by having had enough cynicism and scepticism and humbug, and we shall want to live more musically. How will that come to pass, and what will we really find? It would be interesting to be able to predict, but it is better still to be able to feel that kind of foreshadowing, instead of seeing absolutely nothing in the future beyond the disasters that are all the same bound to fall like terrible lightening on the modern world and on civilization, through a revolution or a war, or the bankruptcy of worm-eaten states."

Crazy Van Gogh said that almost exactly 99 years before I finished my piece on Rock n Roll. And I knew what my record of proceedings going on in a rhythm and blues roadhouse was all about. "We shall want to live more musically" in spite of the humbug.

Tere
Feb/9/2010, 8:11 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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