a sample from El Dorado
Work progresses nicely though it’s still several months away from completion. This will be the single biggest book I’ve written thus far, though I have one in the cards for next year that will eclipse it by about a hundred pages. Still, after writing many books in the 14-16 chapter range, writing one with 29 chapters is daunting. There was nothing for it, however; the story demanded that much content.
El Dorado is broken into four acts, each narrated in the first person by its principle character, and each act representing the main character’s retelling of the events leading up to that moment in time. In other words Act One features the character at the beginning of Act Two, telling someone everything that happened in Act One. Act Two takes place at the beginning of Act Three, with the main character writing a diary of the events recorded in Act Two, and so on.
It sounds weird but it makes sense when you read it (at least, that’s the hope).
Here’s a sample, taken from the second act, near the beginning of the ninth chapter, entitled “Into the Triangle.”
“Are you awake?” the Captain said, snapping his fingers twice in my direction. Apparently he’d asked a question and I was far away from the room, day-dreaming of my Mary.
“Yes. Sorry. You were saying Abe had nothing to break out of prison for; no one and nowhere to escape to. You are mistaken.”
“Oh? He had someone?”
“I have a feeling we’re about to come to a great turn in your tale thus far.” Earl sat upright in his seat, awaiting what I had to say. Whether his curiosity was genuinely stirred or if he was just humoring me before giving the order to return me to my cell, I couldn’t yet tell.
There was no more use in delaying. I pulled out the folded parchment from the inside of my faded, prison-issue pants, wincing from the sting in my wounded shoulder (the quick-bandage that Emerson Brown had applied was doing the job, though he’d neglected any medicine for the pain).
The map was understandably wet, though its ink had held true. I unfolded it entirely and laid it on the Captain’s desk. He looked it over and then glanced up at me before his eyes returned to the map for a few painful seconds. Finally his lips parted and his first response came forth.
“Believe it or not, the Rougarou has sailed from one end of the Atlantic to the next, across the Mediterranean, around Africa and nearly to India and back again. We once sailed near São Miguel Island, in the Azores. Do you know it? Have you been there?”
“No. I have not.” I answered honestly, unsure of the point.
“We were there two years ago maybe. Near Christmas if I recall. And do you know what we found there?”
“I couldn’t begin to—”
“Nothing. No inhabitants. No wreckage. Not even an anchovy. The islands just floated quietly in place, not a soul to be seen anywhere, except for the natives on land.”
“Were you expecting something else?”
“I was expecting to find the cause for such great controversy. Those islands are haunted. Every sailor knows it. 'Steer clear' we all say to each other, but we all have a thirst for greed. What is hidden there that might make someone tell us to stay away? What secret is buried that someone might not want found? At least, that’s what every sailor asks himself. And sure enough, every sailor goes looking, fueled by avarice. And everyone that goes, never comes back. At least…that’s what the sailors always say. You can’t really trust a sailor. Every story has an angle, a purpose behind the story.”
“I see.” I lied.
“No you don’t. You don’t because you’re of the land. You’re a farmer. Me? I don’t sow and I don’t reap. What I do is hunt, collect, and sell. I’ve gone halfway around the world and back again. I’ve found a lot of great items, sold them for a nice price too. You know what I’ve never found?”
“X. I’ve never found the infamous X.”
“I don’t follow.”
“No? If you follow your map here, you will find an X. There it is…” He pointed to a spot in the heart of the Andes Mountains, as the map depicts them. Sure enough, an “X” was inked onto the parchment, with the words “The Entrance to El Dorado” wrapped around it like a wreath.
“X marks the spot.” I mumbled aloud. Everyone—even farmers—know that expression.
“So they say, but I’ve never found it. I’ve found a lot of things but I have never, in all my years, found a treasure map that actually led to anything more than nothing at all.”
“I understand.” The words fell out of my lips without much thought. I couldn’t very well mount a compelling argument. After all, I scarcely believed the map myself. I might have lied to myself when my life was in peril, but deep down I knew—without any of the experience that Earl had—that it was a fool’s hope. It was a silly fantasy, held onto by a foolish old man who needed something to keep him alive in prison.
“I’m not finished.” he said, taking in a slow, deep breath while rubbing his hand across his bristled face. “As I said, every sailor has a tale and there’s always an angle behind them. You’re not a sailor, but I can spot an angle…trouble is I’m having a hard time figuring yours out. Until I do, you’re not going anywhere.”
The book will be done, Lord willing, by Thanksgiving.