Day Four of the Blog Tour: Of Adders & Rattlesnakes
Today is a wild day on the blog tour, with a post on Magical Words and also on Celluloid Blonde.
I wrote this blog entry for Magical Words in which I talked about writing about snakes.
It’s the post I was going to write for Max Adams’ blog, but she wouldn’t let me because she said she doesn’t do snakes.
There is irony, here, people. Irony. Because Max is the one who made me write about snakes in Nicholl Award-winning script, Redemption [aka La Desperada].
But I can’t write about snakes on her blog.
Why did I want to write about snakes on her blog? Because it seemd the best way to thank her for insisting that I do something I didn’t want to do that ended up being wonderful. Oh and by the way? There are also snakes in This Crumbling Pageant which is why this all become topical again.
By the way, I have a phobia about snakes.
What follows is the scene from the script, Redemption, and after that, a brief excerpt from This Crumbling Pageant.
La Desperada the novel remains a snake-free zone, by the way.
And now, the promised scene. It’s brief!
SCENE FROM REDEMPTION
EXT. CAMPSITE – DUSK
Coulter is asleep on his bedroll.
He opens his eyes and sees her standing a short distance away, aiming the rifle at him.
He jerks up – A rattlesnake WHIRRRRRS.
He freezes halfway. The rattler snaps into a coil near his head.
He cuts his eyes toward Elizabeth.
The gun is aimed at the snake. He waits.
She tightens her grip, fighting to hold the gun steady.
The snake WHIRRRS.
Without moving a hair – every fiber of him urges her to —
He sweats. Swallows.
The snake … uncoils … slithers slowly away.
Elizabeth lowers the rifle, trembling.
Coulter springs up and lunges for her –
Why didn’t you shoot it?
– yanks the rifle away from her, whirls toward where the snake went – tries to aim – the snake is gone – He spins back to her.
She clenches her trembling hands in front of her. This lady needs her laudanum – badly.
What the hell were you doing?
Watching to see what it intended.
He gapes at her, incredulous.
Hellfire and damnation – it intended to bite me!
I said you didn’t have it in you to shoot a man,
but in the name of Jesus, lady you can’t even
shoot a snake?
Mr. Coulter – it didn’t intend to bite you.
How do you claim to know that?
I’ve observed their behavior from my window.
I enjoy watching the wildlife.
From your window.
Yes, and if you hadn’t moved the snake would
never have coiled in the first place.
I told you not to move!
Lady, you’re not sitting in your big fancy house
looking out your window – you’re living with
the goddamned snakes, and any goddamn rattler
that you don’t kill is a goddamn rattler that won’t
give a rat’s ass about killing you!
Frustrated, she throws her things into her carpetbag.
I thought you would be pleased.
If the earth opened up, he couldn’t look more astounded.
I was trying not to attract attention!
His expression fades a bit.
And whether you admit it or not – the snake is gone,
you didn’t get bit, and we haven’t fired a gun or
left a bullet-ridden snake carcass to reveal
He kicks dirt in the fire. Kicks a couple of rocks.
To every thing there is a season, Mr. Coulter.
A time to kill and a time –
Don’t quote scripture at me!
He catches himself – calms himself – glares at her.
Never quote scripture at a
Now she’s astounded.
It’ll backfire on you, every time.
Especially when it comes to women –
Max was right. I needed to write that scene.
And when it came time to write about snakes in This Crumbling Pageant, well, let’s just say Elizabeth got off easy, shall we?
The adder did not slither away from Persephone Fury…
SCENE FROM THIS CRUMBLING PAGEANT
He’d left her.
He had left her alone, in the dark, on the ground, with adders, with a wand—a wand she didn’t want, didn’t know how to use, and shouldn’t he—didn’t he know it was his fault? She wouldn’t have fallen, wouldn’t have been bitten, wouldn’t have pain gnawing at her, climbing her leg, burning into her until she could only fall back into the dirt and moan…
His fault, and he’d left her. She wanted to curl into a tight ball, to hide from the moon, from the air, from the snakes… but… but she couldn’t. She couldn’t move, lest the pain devour her. She couldn’t even raise the wand to her defence. Her fingers, numb and cold, barely held it. Moving them, raising her arm… it was all just too difficult… She rolled her head to stare up at the sky, at the diamonds swimming in the night sea, bobbing, shimmering, moving, until she thought she would retch.
Do you need to vomit yet?
He had known. He had known what was coming. He had known, and yet he had left her. Her heart pounded in her chest, but not steadily. Her heart felt oddly—frighteningly—off-tempo.
She wanted her papa. He would clap his hands and wave his baton and keep the rhythm steady. He would not allow her heart to lose tempo. He would not let it hurt. Make it stop make it stop make it stop.
She hiccoughed once, twice, barely managed to roll her head sideways before she lost what little supper she’d eaten, clots and bits of it clogging her nose, coating her tongue and mouth with its putrid remains, and all she could do was lie there, her mouth filling with dirt, and weep…
She was going to die alone. She, who had always been loved. Had always been, even before her birth, loved.
Mr Jones had left her to die alone.
She hated him with a passion that went beyond anything she’d ever imagined. She despised him, would dance on his grave, dance with wild glory and sing songs of jubilation.
She wanted him to die.
He had tethered her like an animal and had brought her to her own death, and left her there to die alone, surrounded by night with a blind moon staring down upon her.
Surrounded by adders.
This Crumbling Pageant, is available through Amazon and BN in trade and digital today!
May 5: The Word Wenches How Research Gave Me the Home I Didn’t Want and the World I Needed
May 6: Get Lost in a Story Welcome Patricia Burroughs Q&A
Mary Robinette Kowal: My Favorite Bit: Patricia Burroughs
May 7: Suzanne Johnson: Q-and-A With Patricia Burroughs and Win a GC
May 8: Celluloid Blonde Of [redacted] and Aubergine
Magical Words: Of Adders and Writing Process
Fury Triad: Of Adders and Rattlesnakes