We came up with a couple of examples then and there. Casey began:
As streaks of blood obscured his vision, he saw his arm dangling by its last few sinews. The spiritual crocodile slowly approached, and he knew it would only be moments before it finally snapped his neck.
I followed it up with this:
The boy stared at the brine. He wanted--no, needed--to repeat the daily routine, the agrarian chores that were once his bane, but now, his one connection to reality. He pushed back the flood of memories--his father's sordid ties to drug peddlers and crimeland kingpins, his mother's heroin-addled madness, the murdered cop in the trunk of the family car--and laughed. It was an eerie, animalistic laugh, one more fit for an asylum than a barn.With a swift jerk of his arm, he pulled a cucumber from the salty water and whispered, "How alike we are, humans and pickles."
So, consider this post an open call for your own gritty reboots. Write 'em up, long or short, and post them in the comments section, or let us all know which stories are your favorites--or which conference stories are begging for a reboot.
I'll kick things off with a longer story. Picture it, if you will, in the voice of Boyd K. Packer.
The Street MediatorLet me tell you a story--a parable.
There once was a tweaker who wanted some product very much. It had been longer than he could remember since his last fix; shooting it again seemed more important than, like, anything else in his life, you know? Thanks to the DEA busting the biggest supplier in town, street prices had more than tripled. In order for him to have his desire, he incurred a great debt.
The creditor was always somewhere in the back of his mind, and he made token payments now and again, but he spent his time partying. And when I say partying, I mean that tweaker got forty people in his little trailer, blasted out electronica until ten in the morning, passed out until the early evening, rinsed and repeated.
But the day of reckoning came, and the contract fell due. The debt hadn't been fully paid. His a** was grass.
Only then did he realize that his creditor not only had the power to mess him up, but the power to put a bullet in his brain.
"Dude, I can't pay you! I don't have the G's, man!" he confessed.
"Then," said the creditor coldly, hefting his ax onto his shoulder, "we will exercise the contract, take off your hands and feet, and shoot you in the back of the head. You signed my contract, homie, and now it must be enforced."
"No way, man, you gotta give me more time, I'm good for the money--or hey, can't you, like, forgive me or something?" the tweaker begged. "Can't you, like, not shoot me, and maybe not cut off my hands and feet? Don't you believe in mercy, bro?"
The creditor shifted that big-a** ax of his and leaned on it, looking into the debtor's eyes. "Mercy is always so one-sided. It would serve only you, you know? If I show mercy to you, then I don't get my money and I look weak on the streets. No, homie, I demand justice. You do believe in justice, right?"
"Well, yeah, like, when I signed the contract and it was all, like, helping me and s***."
"Well guess what? Justice is like my ax--it demands that you pay the contract," the creditor replied, leaning closer. "Mercy can't gank justice."
There they were: One meting out justice with a well-used ax, the other forced down on his knees by a couple of refrigerator-sized street thugs, pleading for mercy. Neither could prevail except at the expense of the other. They are two rules of the street that appear to straight up contradict each other. So you gotta be wondering, can you do both?
F*** yeah, you can! Justice can be exacted and mercy can be extended. It takes someone else, though, you know? And so it happened this time.
That's my parable, yo. Sometimes you gotta help a brother out.