Weekly Writing Challenge: Cliffhanger (Part 2 of 2)

This is a small excerpt taken from my novel, The Carpenter’s Son. This is from Chapter 11, entitled Food From the Ocean. A description of the novel can be found here

As the two men arrived below, Michael turned to Brian and shouted “On the table”. Both men placed Scott on the table. “Get a towel or cloth and wrap it around his foot, and apply pressure” said Michael who was searching for something. Brian dashed across the room to find something. He started throwing items, and double-checking places he already checked, but to no avail he could not locate any cloth. Finally Brian realized he was wearing a shirt, so he took it off and wrapped it around Scott’s leg. Michael re-emerged with a knife in one hand, a small kit in the other. He also had a rope wrapped around his neck. Michael placed the knife on the ground with the small kit. He then took the rope and put it beside Scott’s head. Michael looked down at Scott and told him to open his mouth. He didn’t listen, so he told him once more. Nothing.

Scott was convulsing in pain, Michael kept telling him to calm down. Michael had reached into Scott’s mouth and was trying to manually open his jaw. At this moment Jim arrived. “What can I do?” asked Jim who was covered in Scott’s blood. “Take over for Brian, and Brian help me get his mouth open,” explained Michael. Jim came over to Brian and placed his hands where he previously had them. Brian moved up to the table to Scott’s head, which was swaying back and forth. Brian reached his hands into Scott’s mouth and helped pull his jaw back. Michael grabbed the rope and slid it between his upper and lower jaw. Scott’s screams were now muffled, but still felt. Michael reached down into the kit and pulled out a needle and vile. He poked the needle into the vile and cocked it back. Once it was full he pulled the needle out of the vile and pushed it forward, excess liquid poured on the floor. Michael then bent over, looking at Scott’s arm for a vein. Once he found it, he shot the needle into his arm. Scott’s screams became less frequent and even his jaw loosened.

“Where’s the whiskey?” asked Michael. “Under da sink” replied Jim. “Go grab it” said Michael who was looking directly as Brian. Brian shirtless ran across the room, behind the makeshift serving station and found a bottle of whiskey beneath the sink. Brian returned with the bottle. Michael grabbed it and put it beside Scott. At this moment Michael moved towards Jim, he took the shirt off his leg and began to inspect the wound, “Several toes are flattened, but still attached. Gonna’ have to chop them” he stated. “Brian, hold Scott down” said Michael who was clearly in charge of the situation. Brian laid his weight on top of Scott and placed his arms over his. “Jim hold his legs while I do this” said Michael. Jim braced Scott’s legs and Michael grabbed the knife he previously placed on the ground. Before using the knife, Michael bit the cap off the bottle of whiskey and spat it on the ground. Using one hand he poured the entire bottle of alcohol on his hands and the knife. After sizing up the cut he was going to make, he told them he was going to count down from five. “five, four, three, two, one” said Michael followed by a loud swing. Scott shot up against Brian and opened his eyes fully. Brian could distinctly see Scott’s eyes meet his. Scott’s entire face went white as a ghost, and within seconds he was unconscious again. Michael managed to keep Scott’s foot; however, only one toe remained. As Brian lay there on top of Scott, he could not break eye contact with Scott’s face. It was thirty minutes after Michael had finished stitching Scott’s flesh that he told Brian he could let go. Up until that moment Brian was firmly pressed up against Scott.

Jim sighed “Good work Michael, you too Bri”. Jim then went up deck, which had seemed to calm down a great deal. “What exactly happened?” Asked Brian who didn’t really understand how the hell this had happened. “One of the metals pots crushed his toes. The boy is lucky he still has a foot” explained Michael. Brian was overwhelmed, he knew this was dangerous trade but he never once considered that he would ever get hurt. “Michael, where’d you learn this?” asked Brian. “The war, I was a field medic” said Michael who was moving about the room making changes to Scott. “I don’t get it, why are you cutting onions?” asked Brian, who clearly couldn’t see why a man this talented was doing something so beneath him. Michael laughed, “Cause we all got to eat, and no hospital wants to hire a black man”. Brian felt ashamed. He wanted to say or do something, but realistically nothing he said or did would make a difference. Brian spent the rest of the day tending to Scott, and assisting Michael where he could.

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