A Gift For Cheyenne by Nik Eveleigh (Adult Content)

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I know you’re watching me.

My eyes don’t work like they did in my twenties but I can still see you pushing up against my kitchen window, gawping. I should’ve pulled the curtain before I sat down but no matter. The glass could do with a lick but you can see the bars through it just like the others. And you can see me clear enough.

I can’t make out your faces but I’d say there’s at least one fat useless tongue lolling around on a weak useless chin while you figure this out. Speaking of weak and useless I guess one of you’s been smart enough to call Cheyenne? I should’ve taken her key back months ago but no matter. She’ll be right along in her good sweet time to put you out of your misery. Hers is just about to start. Not that I give two truthful shits about you or Cheyenne. You can take that to the bank as my Jerry used to say. By the end it was all just a bunch of wet mumblings but I still knew his words. You don’t stay married for thirty seven years without learning a few things. You could’ve learned a few things yourself Jerry. Like if you want to stick that excuse for a prick somewhere dark and warm you make damn sure it’s not gonna grow teeth and make you lose half your face. Sure as eggs is eggs there’s always a price.

You can take that to the bank.

Still gawping huh? I expect you’re wondering what’s in the bag. My ears are about as much use as my eyes from this distance but I’d wager one of you is asking the other ‘What the fuck has that scrawny old bitch got in front of her?’ or something equally banal. What is it that draws your eyes to it? Is it the color? The fine stitching across the side? The railroad straight zipwork done by some eight year old in a Taiwanese sweat house? Given we’ve already established that I’m not afraid of betting I’d stick the house on it being that rising sickness that claws its way from the pit of your belly to the roof of your gorge every time it moves. That’s how it made me feel first time I saw it.

Don’t get all excited. It’s almost done twitching.

You can keep hammering away. The glass won’t budge. Jerry might have been a walking hard-on but you couldn’t fault the man when it came to home security. It was just him, me and the TV most days but it kept him happy. If you really want to get inside in a hurry I keep a spare key under a rock next to the swamp lilies but you’re probably all too young to think that something so basic and obvious exists outside of sepia stained re-runs. Jerry would’ve had a fit and died if he knew I was keeping it there, which, come to think of it would’ve been a better end than the one he got. You reap what you sow Jerry – you can take that to the bank – and no doubt the good lord will punish me for turning my back on you in your darkest hour. But that incessant mewling and that fucking smell. Jesus. Truth is if I had the time over I’d have stuck you in the panic room sooner.

Blood sure does go cold quickly when it runs out of your arms and what’s left doesn’t feel a whole lot warmer. Irony is I’ve been trying to keep cool on these long summer evenings for half a lifetime. Who knew it just took a knife and some patience! Guess the fact it’s a one shot deal means it won’t catch on in a hurry but these are miserable times and miserable people. Give Cheyenne the bag back once you’re done marking out your chalk and I’d stake the car keys and what’s left of the savings on her giving it a whirl.

Ah Cheyenne. I raised you like my own. You had them all fooled with your big tears and your stories about a boy from upstate but I saw you. I saw you. I watched you grind and moan your way through my husband every Sunday through June and I said nothing. He moved on to that booking clerk in July and got his due and now you get yours. Sure as eggs is eggs there’s always a price.

You can take that to the bank.

All this remembering is making me tired. Think maybe I’ll lie down for a spell.

© 2014 Nik Eveleigh

14 thoughts on “A Gift For Cheyenne by Nik Eveleigh (Adult Content)

  1. Hi Nik, a dark story from a master story teller. The middle single line is as chilling as it gets and your opening paragraph sucks the reader straight in.
    All the very best my friend.
    Hugh

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  2. Hi Nik, this is a great story and the darkest one of all written by you that I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far. Sucked me in from the very start and kept in suspense right to the last line. Best wishes. Victor

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  3. Hi Nik, a great story and the darkest one of all your pieces of work I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far. Sucked me in and kept in suspense throughout the read. Best wishes. Victor

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  4. I don’t mind a monologue but who is this one addressing – Cheyenne, the gawpers, Gerry or the reader? All at once? That got too much for me. Why do so many of us non-Americans like to set our stories in the U.S? So we can get away with writing about demented souls? And I don’t mind a little ambiguity but after several reads I still find this is not quite anchored firmly enough to get a grasp, at least for this small brain!

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    • Hi Richard – thanks for your comments. You raise some really interesting points and I will do my best to answer them. With regard to the monologue I pictured the MC as being in a fairly diminished mental state and the monologue changed direction as her thoughts scattered. So to begin with the people outside the window were her focus, as Jerry entered her thoughts she switched direction and so on. I don’t tend to over-think these things while I’m writing – it made sense to me that the slightly rambling nature of her monologue reflected her scattered thoughts and mental state.
      For the location of the story it was as simple as having a name in my head for a while (Cheyenne) which felt American and that’s the way it came out. I don’t generally start a story with a specific location or dialect in mind, however, since moving to SA I’ve found that so much of the TV (and other mediums) comes from America that it’s changed how characters appear in my mind. I could have set this in a small town somewhere in the Karoo but I didn’t feel confident of getting the tone of thoughts and speech to sound authentic. Also there are certain elements of speech and phrasing that would be too local (in my opinion) for this kind of story and would prove to be a distraction.
      In terms of the ambiguous nature of the piece – this is something I went through in great detail with the rest of the editors when I submitted the story for consideration. The original draft was more ambiguous and was a classic example of a writer picturing a scene clearly and not giving the reader enough to become engaged. I made some revisions but I didn’t want the story to become straightforward and simple to grasp or to lose the idea that someone might need a couple of reads to make their mind up about it. I’m happy with the revised version that got published and feel it strikes the balance correctly. That said, I completely understand and accept that it’ll work for some and not for others!
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment – much appreciated.

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  5. Pingback: Literally Stories – Week 2 | literally stories

  6. Dear Nik, thanks for your fulsome reply. I’m with you all the way there: I feel that a piece of writing that asks something of the reader has more chance of staying with the reader and I still have an image of the back of your deranged MC’s head and faces looking through the window. And I don’t think that a piece that requires more than one read can be said to have failed though there are many who believe otherwise. I’m working on something myself at present and I hope to trouble you again soon in your capacity as an editor here at LS2014!

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  7. Okay, that’s what we want on this site after all isn’t it? A question I neglected to ask this morning: where did the photo at the top of your piece come from? Can’t decide if it’s a frog in that jar, salamander or something more distressing to behold. Does it have any baring in the tale?

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    • Not entirely sure what’s in the jar – salamander seems like a good bet! It’s a photo my wife took earlier this year at Hemingway’s house outside Havana (the typewriter you see at the top of each of the stories is from the same trip). In terms of the story…purely a happy accident. I was digging through photos and found that one – it’s got a window and a couple of weird jars so it seemed to fit quite nicely!

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