Old Fiction: from Timber (2007-2009)

I don’t update this often, but I am writing and revising every day. New books are coming.

In the meantime, here’s a little sample, the opening scene from Timber, a novel I worked on from 2007-2009. In a small Tennessee town a black Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD deals with racism and a strained relationship with his daughter.

Two things to come mind when reading this: overwritten and trying way too hard. I had an idea back then of how writers are supposed to write.

Here is is, unedited from eight years ago:

The scent of tobacco rolled in over the plains and past the tractors and fields and trucks, past the railroad tracks sat a man on his porch. A leather jacket hung on his shoulders. A patch sewn into it, a smiling grim reaper. 1% cupped in its hand.

The fresh harvest. The onset of autumn and another cycle done. Jake sniffed it as you might the most noxious perfume, watching the countryside unfold into late afternoon. The fresh harvest at dusk. He missed the days when he smoked it and felt the warm end between his lips and the peace as the leaves burned to strong flavor and then yearning for more.

He pulled a beer from the cooler. He sipped it and the man beside him did the same.

“Why you wearin that?” he asked.

He sipped quickly. Runoff filled the crater around the top.

“Jake, why you wearin that? You ain’t one of em.”

Jake finished his beer and tossed it over the porchrail. He grabbed another and popped it. A frosty tip paused near his lips.

“It’s cold out.”

He drank.



Long after autumn passed and winter came, Jake lifted his beer from the holster and leaned back. Just twenty five bucks for this chair. A hell of a deal.

“I think it’s bout time to be callin it a night.”

“I guess you right. What’s goin on tomorrow?”

“Deidre’s in a play.”

“Really? What’s she doin?”

“She’s a…somethin or nother, I can’t remember. She does have to be at school early tomorrow mornin so she can practice and stuff.”

“What time’s this goin on?”

“Tomorrow night round six or so.”

“Man, she good at this actin stuff?”

“She is.” He smiled. “She’s a real good actress.”

“Thas what you say. How bout everyone else?”

“I don know.”

“Well shit, if I had me a girl who could act real good I’d be there all the time braggin about it to the whole damn world.” He finished his beer and chucked it at the trashcan. It bounced off the rim and dinged on the porch. “Aw fuck. Sorry bout that.”

Jake shrugged. “It ain’t nothin. Les see if I’m any better.”

He chugged the rest and his shot made it dead center.

“How about that? You ain’t changed a bit.”

“I reckon skill don’t change.”

“Oh man.” He grinned and stood. “You thinkin about goin out for varsity too?”

“From what I can tell they need all the help they can get.”

“Yeah, they sure do. Well Jake, I’ll be headin on now.”


He lumbered to the door. The boards creaked and Jake watched his boots stomp. Then stop.

“One more thing for I go though. The jacket.”

Jake put his feet up on the cooler and watched the horizon. “No, we ain’t goin through this again.”

“Look, all I’m sayin is you might not wanna be wearin somethin like that. It might getcha into trouble. Thas all I’m sayin.”

“It ain’t no worry.”

“I’m jus sayin.”

“I just wear it around here’s all.” He pushed off the cooler and reached for another beer. “Ain’t no harm in whatcha do in the privacy of your own home.”

“Nope there ain’t neither.”

“When what I do on my own time on my own property becomes the world’s business then yeah, by all means I’ll take it off. But as long as I’m here in my own house on my own property then no, I ain’t takin nothin off.”

“Yeah, you got a point there Jake. I’ll prolly see ya tomorrow.”



Jake grabbed another beer and squeezed it. Cold water ran over his fingers. Little separate foam rivers to creeks to drybeds and off the edge, stinging and numbing his hand. He held it there until it warmed and sat watching the horizon. The familiar land and the unfamiliar one, and when you were away from the familiar one it stayed familiar in dreams but otherwise turned unfamiliar and that was all you had in this world. He had seen enough of both in his life to know what each one meant, and out of it all he preferred the familiar one. Though to be fair, none had treated him too well.

He drank half the beer and threw it away. He backed into the house, watching the porch creak under him and when he collided with the door he punched it and swung it open and slammed it shut. He went to his room, undressed and went to bed.