As I was beginning my new novel Bloody Point 1976, I searched for photographs that would help paint in my head the world I was going to write about. Today on easternshorebrent I’d like to share some excerpts from the book, along with a few of those pictures.
“The sun rose hard at a quarter to six and the breeze dropped out. As they started their fourth run, the distant inland greens and gold of summer reminded Tooey of the cold winter months of oystering that lay ahead. Compared to hand-tonging for oysters, crabbing was easy work, fun too, despite the repetitious “baiting up, getting up, and taking up.” Anybody who said oystering was fun should be avoided like a pirate with rabies. Only a maniac would enjoy standing all day above dangerous icy water with snot freezing on his face, raking the bottom with a thirty-foot pair of tongs fitted with heavy and pointy-toothed iron heads. Over and over, dropping those tongs into the water and hand over hand, all back-breaking day long, pulling them up to the boat, hopefully full of clean marketable oysters. What sort of nut could love that life, Tooey asked himself.
Nuts like Tooey’s grandfather.
It was man’s work. It was outdoors, time-tested, and in good years profitable. No other man was a waterman’s boss. Mother Nature and, more and more lately, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources alone dictated the rules.
To Tooey, men like Moviestar were anchors forged of iron. They were durable and stable, providing safety and optimism that if you didn’t over-plan, things usually went as planned. But those men were inflexible. This was the existence they knew. Tooey thought of the waterman’s life as a rope tethering him to who he was, yet holding him captive by the very act.”
“My problem, Tooey, is my daughter. You know my baby girl, Delores.”
Tooey had been afraid of Dee Bradnox since seventh grade. “Yes sir. I went to school with her.”
“Well then, you also know she’s always been a wild child,” Bradnox said, “a mixed up little ball of trials and tribulation. A hurricane in a trailer park.”
“…as he walked beyond The Block’s fringes and in toward its heart, Tooey’s instincts stopped him mid-stride, as if he were entering a predatory place like the marsh or woods. Places where it was important to know where he was stepping.
Everything eye-level glowed with an incandescent shimmer and pulsating neon hum, a multi-colored perpetual twilight that threw off Tooey’s sense of time. He wondered when the moon and stars last managed to shine through down here.”
“You know when you’re afraid and you get that pain in your stomach?” Salt asked. “That gut-punch-kick-in-the-balls ache that makes you want to ralph? You probably got it right now. Well, imagine that feeling all the time. The Blues is all the time.”
It is with regret I can’t give photo credits where credits are due. I hope the artists and photographers who created the pictures I used to help me write my book understand. And I hope I can help others to use their creative inspiration, whatever that may be, to make something they’re proud of.
Thank you all for your support.
Bloody Point 1976 is available on Amazon.
A stunning foray into a stunning book. Anybody who loves the Eastern Shore, anybody who loves a good story, anybody who is interested in a portrait of a culture that may be slipping away from the American picture, will love this book. Wonderful blog, Brent!
Thank you Helen! Having you in my cheering section means the world.
Brent – Who is the young blond in the photos above that you used to characterized Deloris in the book?
Just random pics I stole from the internet, Joseph Ross. But she does look like every 3rd girl I went to school with!