Small Town Friendships and Unconscionable Doings – Pete Deakon’s Buried Within

Pete Deakon’s second novel, Buried Within, is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

Not everything is alright in America’s humble Midwest.

I’ve only been to Missouri for three days, at most. One day in Springfield, two in St. Louis. While I remember the weather being muckier than desired, walking from the botanical garden in an inadequate poncho, the people continued to grin.

In Buried Within, Pete Deakon illustrates just how the fond, playful winsome conflicts with the dreary, the two eventually coalescing as the horrific transpires.

“I’m here for you if you need it,” a friend offers in tragedy’s chill. But of course, the person facing loss may brood, in his own special way. Some understand, others are spooked. Maybe he’s not sad enough. Maybe he’s too angry. Perhaps, a bit obsessed. Crazed. They’ll still continue to talk about him, meaning well, though not immune to plasticized gossip and sentimental recollections of some romantic movie.

Mark, he’s a romantic. An awkward one who Deakon endows with calculative flair. Like The Divorce and Doom of Simon Pastor, Buried Within holds tight to the logical, each character’s thoughts, mannerisms, and relationships presented with the accessibility of a well-written instruction manual. But the steps you follow to assemble the cabinet, they’re written with heart and integrity.

Here is just an example of dry humor by which I was charmed:

“Like most men, Adam and John were not attorneys and they certainly made decisions that proved┬áthem to be hypocrites to their own lofty notions of morality, but still they held these notions.”

Of course, attorneys aren’t perfect people, and everyone, in a series however prolonged or brief, repeats the same mistakes. This is a human flaw, and while imperfection can embarrass and disappoint, Deakon describes everyday follies with a bluntness and dialogue that not only has one chuckling, but reassures readers that maybe, even through the appallingly unpredictable, things will be okay.

The thrill of courtship, the drabs of marriage, the challenge of keeping the flame at a flicker. Couples and partnership are key players in Buried Within, helping to establish the backdrop of a quiet town and steady friendships. Mark and Rebecca are great for each other. The girl, young and lively, shivers in her modesty, though comfort is found in the sheer stability of quiet, awkward Mark. Again, no one is perfect, but upon finding out, most would “tsk” and pry. So Mark and Rebecca keep to themselves for much of their married lives.

Before, things were better. Wholesome memories of a budding love that makes me think of that movie with a young Reese Witherspoon. Man in the Moon.

In time, Mark unravels. We see the petals of a vibrant rose gradually fall. Insecurity, infertility, the bureaucracy of adoption. Work. Because love doesn’t pay the bills, though you’d think it makes hardships easier to bear.

Mark gets struck with a hardship. Brought on by a different kind of awkward.

Deakon writes about the interpersonal in very personal ways. Again, I’ll emphasize that he’s quite technical, something I can’t deduce too often in the span of a short novel. The chapters read like vignettes, Norman Rockwell paintings that hang on the same wall, but don’t necessarily depict the same thing, like dogs or the ocean, hotdogs and cottages. We begin at the present, roll in the past, proceed to the present again. The woods, a car, a bowling alley. A garage. The trunk of a car. Deakon doesn’t concentrate too much on building a bridge from scene to scene, but they all fit tightly. More so, we appreciate detail in thoughts and dialogue.

But one thing I wish the author could have done more is drill more detail in those more unpleasant scenes.

In general, we tend to be more comfortable reading about atrocity than seeing it. Given the freedom of imagination, it makes a lot of sense. While Deakon did well with his fine brushstrokes the first half of the novel, I felt things grew curt towards the end. Know that the writing is always straightforward. But with actions we associate with high coverage trials, I was hoping for more exploration. The content itself is unsettling, though I wanted something more graphic.

However, this may be the point of it all. Contrasts are everywhere. The conventional versus the old-fashioned, the young and the old, the masculine and the effeminate. Pay attention to what Rebecca says about Mark’s dad, the perks Rebecca hopes for at work when she hits her thirties, the way Mark’s friends laugh at him because he uses the word “tendrils.”

By the way, I’ve never actually heard a man use the word “tendrils” in person.

So while I initially felt I was walking through some lush forest beneath some starry, lovelorn sky (and I do like to feel this way every once in a while), it seemed like I suddenly found myself in a pale tundra, with poison ivy here and there. Jarring and out of place.

But then again, maybe this was the goal Deakon aimed for.

The quirky and the creepy. The grieving and the vengeful. These, among a handful of other attributes, harbor similarities but diverge at a certain point. A fork in the road, or a fine line. The demarcation isn’t as harsh as the water of romance and the oil of postmarital boredom, but it’s there to be noticed. A point for reflection.

Despite its occasional brusqueness, Buried Within left me with thoughts whole and absorbed in our own flaws. The things we hold most dear, and things that really, anyone is capable of accomplishing when we lose our grasp on what we loved.

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There stands the neighborhood.

I walk,
pace,
and search.

styrofoam cups
caked in spoilt dairy.

but rather,
Bacardi rolls
in the key
of E minor.

you appreciate no sadness
while I anticipate
a respectable shunning.

gates of steel
and shutters bright green.

structural integrity.

your dream,
in one square mile.

so indulge me,
in stories without a plot.

tell me,
where I’d fit in.

*Cat No. 21 of the 500 Cats Project

Friendly Sneezes

IMG_1351

I have a voice
a smooth’d timbre
when those who call out,
cough up an itch
that mountain cedar

notoriously
predictably
and without one “sorry”

demands to see,
interrogate,
tease.

But as for myself,
softened is trust
I hope you’ve secured
in a frayed old purse
respective to all allergies

sincerely
concernedly
brewing regret

Perhaps, it is best
that we look, and not touch.

 

*Cat No. 20 of the 500 Cats Project

Watching

the beauty of sloth
is that I am not.
dash before beamers
sidle on hoods.
Sunday breathes
and beagles may cry.
panting at the side,
of Rage Against the Machine.
I study the grain,
paw at dissent.
These girls,
one skittish
and the other wet with thirst,
argue whether 1990
qualifies their kind.
button down groupies
of Generation X.

let me tell you,
they’re sweating, and wrong.
So just because Leila
came home with shades of Green Day
and because you heard her ask,
“…what does ‘Longview’ mean?”
doesn’t make you any more
of a casual, lemoned expert
than when you grabbed at Barbies.
conjugation God forbid.
this.
this has always been
Mom’s sweet tempest.

by the way, they still mold Kens
with simplicity bestowed
on the commercial infertile.
and me?
I’ve committed to all that is duty.
everyone has left.

milk, too thick
and fish quite dry –
so fester a few blocks down to the right,
if you could, at all.

read the sign
or save for fines.
let me be,
as these whiskers fall.

*Cat No. 19 of the 500 Cats Project

Where’s Waldocat?

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Today, we embark on a journey,
a lecture on the good hypnotic
and a cup of chamomile tea.
“If we don’t have it, we’ll order it for you.”
Thank you kindly; an open mind
may be the push this turtle needs
to wander, waddle, wonder
lumbering toward a lesson learned
a lantern to take on his next trip.

 

In the dusk of winter heat,
sudden with motives unknown,
a bush tiptoes ‘cross the field
looks above for a nebulous fish
when wants lay unsatisfied,
we keep on walking
to paddle, ponder, putter,
whispering signs of curiosity,
oddities tucked in a modest tote.

Before embarking on my Sunday journey, I put on a jumper and my favorite shirt. And got called "Waldette" by a local shop owner.

Before embarking on my Sunday journey, I put on a jumper and my favorite shirt. And got called “Waldette” by a local shop owner.

Where do we belong, and
where do we go, as dust
encases our bedrooms denied
such luxuries to host our flailing time,
unlimited sleep, and scheming.
The closure still won’t seal alright
but supposedly, peace awaits
on the road, above the dirt
and in our minds, revived.

*Cat No. 18 of the 500 Cats Project

Four minutes before work

Inverted, collected
ink splashed on wood
black forest cake
with icing in the center

Your cousins parade along curbsides of banks
but in their entirety
walk cloaked in eve
you, you’re like a small clown

whisking your tale back and forth
like I did with yolks twenty minutes before
saying hello as I gave you a grin
a frequency you could appreciate

Seated, protected
by the man outside
your playground, his canvas
his laughter, your fright

*Cat No. 17 of the 500 Cats Project

Chalk dust?

“Is that cocaine five feet away?”
“It can’t be better than painkillers, Thomas.”
“But Peter, this is Suburbia!
…not some scene from a Mark Twain novel.”
“Thomas, you do know
sometimes
in winter
on certain occasions,
you’re just a pain in the ass.”

“Peter, it’s a leap away.”
“Thomas, it’s time for a nap.”

*Cats No. 15 and 16 of the 500 Cats Project