The Cadence of the Grave

The Cadence of the Grave

A Story by C.M.
"

Short story so far but may turn into to a novel

"

 

 

            The boy’s heels, in near unison, tapped lightly against the iron bound teak slats of the drum he sat upon. Faded Chinese characters warning of the gunpowder inside ran the length of the drum, indecipherable to the boy and unnoticed by the sweeper . The boy tried to hide his prolonged gazes, as the sweeper's eye patch dangled below the wreckage of flesh it was  meant to conceal. Perhaps the sweeper felt the stare, but he merely shuffled about in random patterns.

The boy knew what a noose was but wonder why so many hung from the tattered rafters of the parlor’s front room. The roof’s clay tiles filtered a few streaks of the fading afternoon light down into the chasm of the shack and the boy could make out several other items clinging to the beams. Burlap, line, and netting...useless, but  too old to burn for cooking and warming hearths were rare this far south. He could hear the harbor lap at the pier footings below the structure and could feel the whole animal of the wharf shake through the drum as the docking carriages passed the bamboo façade framing the open windows of the den.

Just beyond the sweeper and through the haze of incense the boy could see the mangled staircase crawl its way to the tearooms above. Very little sound opposed the scrape of the wicker catching the knotholes of the floorboards. The taps above the parlor’s ceiling the boy was sure were the Merchant’s boots, as he knew the Mechant would never take them off ashore. The boy’s brow creased as he strained to subtly cast his eyes toward the sound. His very mannerisms pulled toward the assertive, articulate thuds as they moved over him. He followed the steps intently as they moved aft from the entrance of the den until his gaze met the dull stare of the sweeper, realizing only then the wicker was silent.

He quickly completed the trajectory of his observation, pressing his chin onto the brim of the Merchant’s tricorne, so as to dissuade the sweeper from suspecting his affiliation. The boy was still, the hat was far too large for him. The sweeper upended the broom and rapped the handle against both the floor and the crating fixture atop which bottles of absinthe rattled from the impact. The sweeper darted forward, his robe billowing out from below his jacket and well beyond the old man’s width. His thin white leggings strained against the near horizontal lengths as they trailed. The boy’s feet now lay still against the barrel, tensed in preparation to spring from the perch. The sweeper neared and the boy ran his finger along the pearl handle tucked in his smock. But the sweeper strayed off course, his shuffled steps moving just aside the barrel as he reached the door.

The boy slowly exhaled easing the pearl back between the folds. He could see the shaking hands of the old man surveying the jamb of the door and finally struggling to grasp the hemp pull. The sweeper was blind. 

 

 

 

© 2009 C.M.


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I love the intro paragraph - the description sets up the surroundings really well.

"The roof's clay tiles filtered a few streaks of the fading afternoon light down into the chasm of the shack and the boy could make out several other items clinging from the beams."
In this sentence, I feel like "clinging" should be followed by "to" - clinging to - or clinging should be replaced with a different word - hanging?

"He could hear the harbor lap at the pier footings below the structure and he could feel the whole animal..."
Here, "he could" is a bit repetitive. You could say "he felt the whole..." instead of "he could feel."

"...the boy could see the mangled staircase crawl its way to the tearooms above."
I think "crawling" would be the more appropriate tense here... but I could be wrong.

"The taps above the parlor's ceiling the boy was sure were the Merchant's boots, as he knew the Mechant would never take them off ashore."
"the boy was sure" seems kind of random inserted in the middle of this sentence - perhaps, place it at the beginning? Also, "Merchant" is spelled wrong the second time it is used.

I like how all of the action is swift and put into one paragraph.
The descriptions really create a feeling for the story and captivate the reader.

:)

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I like the way you unfold the piece. Each character "feels" his way in the environment. the boy has a mysterious presence in the tale, yet to be revealed? Lots of intriguing elements and well handled. Thanks for a fun read.

Posted 8 Years Ago


Didnt mean to send it twice it copied wrong but i think you might understand i like your descriptions and want to see them interwoven in a thought that permiates the writers mind

Posted 9 Years Ago


I miss the interactions of language and cadence.I want to hear what you see.I want to feel for the participants what they have going on .Describing a scene so beautifully would help in the making of a set for a movie I suppose but it Doesnt help me to follow the narrative .Perhaps the difference could be seen more aptly if you were to take a look at a book by say Dickens .So for instance I will add an excerpt from a dickens tale note the story is a description of how dickens feels about a prison life .Not a description of everything that goes on .Just to show how the misery in prison moves his soul to disgust .And that is the difference the story is coherent and is a long thought of what this means in terms of human misery .It inst a matter of fact tale of the participants every detail in their lives .But is a thought of moving dimensions about [pain

In its intention, I am well convinced that it is kind, humane, and meant for reformation; but I am persuaded that those who devised this system of Prison Discipline, and those benevolent gentlemen who carry it into execution, do not know what it is that they are doing. I believe that very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony which this dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts upon the sufferers; and in guessing at it myself, and in reasoning from what I have seen written upon their faces, and what to my certain knowledge they feel within, I am only the more convinced that there is a depth of terrible endurance in it which none but the sufferers themselves can fathom, and which no man has a right to inflict upon his fellow creature. I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably more than any torture of the body; and because its ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye and sense of touch as scars upon the flesh; because its wounds are not upon the surface, and it extorts few cries that human ears can hear; therefore I the more denounce it, as a secret punishment which slumbering humanity is not roused up to stay. I hesitated once, debating with myself, whether, if I had the power of saying "Yes" or "No," I would allow it to be tried in certain cases, where the terms of imprisonment were short; but now, I solemnly declare, that with no rewards or honors could I walk a happy man beneath the open sky by day or lie me down upon my bed at night, with the consciousness that one human creature, for any length of time, no matter what, lay suffering this unknown punishment in his silent cell, and I the cause, or I consenting to it in the least degree.

Read more: Charles Dickens - Excerpt From American Notes http://law.jrank.org/pages/12336/Dickens-Charles-Excerpt-from-American-Notes.html#ixzz0b6txRoMt
In its intention, I am well convinced that it is kind, humane, and meant for reformation; but I am persuaded that those who devised this system of Prison Discipline, and those benevolent gentlemen who carry it into execution, do not know what it is that they are doing. I believe that very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony which this dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts upon the sufferers; and in guessing at it myself, and in reasoning from what I have seen written upon their faces, and what to my certain knowledge they feel within, I am only the more convinced that there is a depth of terrible endurance in it which none but the sufferers themselves can fathom, and which no man has a right to inflict upon his fellow creature. I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably more than any torture of the body; and because its ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye and sense of touch as scars upon the flesh; because its wounds are not upon the surface, and it extorts few cries that human ears can hear; therefore I the more denounce it, as a secret punishment which slumbering humanity is not roused up to stay. I hesitated once, debating with myself, whether, if I had the power of saying "Yes" or "No," I would allow it to be tried in certain cases, where the terms of imprisonment were short; but now, I solemnly declare, that with no rewards or honors could I walk a happy man beneath the open sky by day or lie me down upon my bed at night, with the consciousness that one human creature, for any length of time, no matter what, lay suffering this unknown punishment in his silent cell, and I the cause, or I consenting to it in the least degree.
This is an excerpt from American notes

In the outskirts, stands a great prison, called the Eastern Penitentiary: conducted on a plan peculiar to the state of Pennsylvania. The system here, is rigid, strict, and hopeless solitary confinement. I believe it, in its effects, to be cruel and wrong.

In its intention, I am well convinced that it is kind, humane, and meant for reformation; but I am persuaded that those who devised this system of Prison Discipline, and those benevolent gentlemen who carry it into execution, do not know what it is that they are doing. I believe that very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony which this dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts upon the sufferers; and in guessing at it myself, and in reasoning from what I have seen written upon their faces, and what to my certain knowledge they feel within, I am only the more convinced that there is a depth of terrible endurance in it which none but the sufferers themselves can fathom, and which no man has a right to inflict upon his fellow creature. I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably more than any torture of the body; and because its ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye and sense of touch as scars upon the flesh; because its wounds are not upon the surface, and it extorts few cries that human ears can hear; therefore I the more denounce it, as a secret punishment which slumbering humanity is not roused up to stay. I hesitated once, debating with myself, whether, if I had the power of saying "Yes" or "No," I would allow it to be tried in certain cases, where the terms of imprisonment were short; but now, I solemnly declare, that with no rewards or honors could I walk a happy man beneath the open sky by day or lie me down upon my bed at night, with the consciousness that one human creature, for any length of time, no matter what, lay suffering this unknown punishment in his silent cell, and I the cause, or I consenting to it in the least degree.


Posted 9 Years Ago


While I like the story .The descriptions were excellent but In my opinion too many tales of the surrounding to hold onto the point of the human adventure.I think I have A>D>D> since I cannot follow for long any thing to lengthy.But the descriptions of every detail are so numerous though wonderfully done.That I lose the stories core feature
Tate

Posted 9 Years Ago


I love the intro paragraph - the description sets up the surroundings really well.

"The roof's clay tiles filtered a few streaks of the fading afternoon light down into the chasm of the shack and the boy could make out several other items clinging from the beams."
In this sentence, I feel like "clinging" should be followed by "to" - clinging to - or clinging should be replaced with a different word - hanging?

"He could hear the harbor lap at the pier footings below the structure and he could feel the whole animal..."
Here, "he could" is a bit repetitive. You could say "he felt the whole..." instead of "he could feel."

"...the boy could see the mangled staircase crawl its way to the tearooms above."
I think "crawling" would be the more appropriate tense here... but I could be wrong.

"The taps above the parlor's ceiling the boy was sure were the Merchant's boots, as he knew the Mechant would never take them off ashore."
"the boy was sure" seems kind of random inserted in the middle of this sentence - perhaps, place it at the beginning? Also, "Merchant" is spelled wrong the second time it is used.

I like how all of the action is swift and put into one paragraph.
The descriptions really create a feeling for the story and captivate the reader.

:)

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

At this point, this seems like a dream sequence, like the boy has imagined himself into some horrific otherworld. There is certainly drama, mystery, the hint of conflict to come, in fact some conflict has already happened. Also the existence of the pearl portends evil. There are a lot or good setup elements here, I feel like this story could go just about anywhere.

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Talk about painting a picture, you are very good at describing the moment. With the scene you paint here, the suspense coming to life, and the words you chose to decribe, yes it would make a very good novel. I will be looking forward to reading more about this young man.

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

It's a very well-written piece for sure, but I think some of the words distort what's trying to be portrayed rather than build it up. It's not fun having to go to dictionary.com after every other word to figure out what it means. Because of this, the imagery was negatively affected by it and ultimately the picture that was trying to be painted. I wasn't entirely sure what was going on. What I got out of it was a young boy by a pier a long time ago about to be hanged.

I'm not bashing your story, mind you. It's very good. I'm just putting out what I feel hindered an already excellent piece that could be better.



Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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Joe
You obviously have talent. Great imagery in this piece.

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

There was so much feeling in this story. You are very descriptive and that's great - although I did feel that some of the sentences were a bit of a mouthful and you may have overloaded on the imagery in some of them. You might want to consider breaking them down a little. I probably would have swapped the first sentence around to make it easier to digest like this: The boy's heels tapped lightly, in near unison, against the iron bound teak slats of the drum he sat upon. I'm not sure if I made correct use of grammar in that sentence but hopefully you understand what I mean anyway. I'm not a professional writer so my opinion need only be taken for its face value but to me I think it may have been a smoother read for your audience if that sentence didn't jump back and forth quite so much. There were a couple of others where I felt you did the same thing. I don't want you to think that this means I didn't enjoy it or didn't think that it was great because it is very well done and you should be proud of your efforts! I just hope that you find my review helpful instead of the same old pats on the back which do nothing to assist you in evolving as a writer. Let me know if you do agree with my suggestion and whether or not you found it useful. I am a bit reluctant to pick at other people's work because I don't want to offend - especially since I am an amateur myself! I really like the subject matter for this story - what inspired you to write it?

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on June 10, 2009
Last Updated on July 21, 2009


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