Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Bringing the Writing to You: Daniel Terrill

Chris Terry

Daniel Terrill

Top 3 Things About Dan “Big Dan T.” Terrill

1. He taught me how to shoot a gun. (He works at guns.com.)

2. He has been at every single Neutron Bomb and will be reading at one soon.

3. He is a dope writer, as the thesis excerpt below goes to show. Here’s what Dan has to say about it:

This is an excerpt from my thesis of the working title, “Adventures of Tommy Edwards: The Story of being Freeh”. I started working on this novel my first semester of graduate school. I originally thought it would be a three-part horror story in the Graphic Forms class, but it has since become more of an adventure.

The story centers on Tommy Edwards, a 14-year-old skateboarder who lives on a farm in rural Tennessee with his step-dad Walter Freeh. Because he is afraid his step-dad will give custody to his estranged father and after a horrific farmhouse massacre, Tommy runs away and ensues on a shenanigan-filled adventure toward Nashville.

The excerpt is the end of the first chapter. It takes place the morning after Tommy snuck out with his friend to skate in town. At one point in the night, they decide to place cones on one end of a three-way stop, which ultimately stops a car. Inside the car, coincidently, was Charlie, the helping hand on the Freeh’s farm. Instead of kicking the cones out of the way, he backs up and drives around the block. Tommy and his friend enjoy the prank.

The next morning raindrops hammered the roof and, from the kitchen window, I saw Charlie’s car parked outside. It looked exceptionally shitty that morning like the bumper was hanging a little lower or the tires were a little flatter.

It was going to be a lazy Monday for me. The “Breakfast Club” kept showing on HBO. I could watch that movie two or three times a day before it got boring. I’d like to think I’d be Judd Nelson, but I don’t know. I think I relate more to that weird girl who didn’t talk.

While I cooked some toast, Charlie came in for a glass of water. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw him. “Hey Charlie. What’s up?”

He lifted the glass, but stopped right before his lips, “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing,” I said while thinking about the night before.

He shrugged it off and then Walter walked in. “Boy, it’s really coming down out there.”

“Good morning, Walt,” I said with my head stuck inside the refrigerator as I reached for grape jelly.

“Yup,” Charlie said. “It weren’t like last night.”

I shut the door, “Yeah, it wasn’t, was it?”

“Nope.”

I was itching to hear Charlie’s version of the story, I couldn’t believe he just didn’t kick the cones out of the way. “What you did you get into last night Charlie?”

He placed his empty glass on the counter, but kept his hand wrapped around it. He looked sort of scared like maybe he did something bad. “Why?”

I was afraid I tapped into something I wasn’t supposed to, so I said, “I was just wondering if you had a nice night, is all. Anything cool happen?”

Walter watched us ping-pong back and forth before rolling his eyes. He didn’t much like getting into social matters, so he excused himself.

Charlie lifted his glass, put it under the faucet and filled it up again. “No, I had a pretty quiet night. Something funny happened though. I was driving back last night from this party down Butler Road and I run into this road block.”

“Like a police stop?”

“No it weren’t like that. No one was around. I came up to a big roadblock.” He spread his hands out emphasizing the size. “Cones lined up on the street, a big orange sign that said DANGER in bold letters, flashing lights too.” When he said “danger” he put his hands together as if holding an invisible basketball. “I mean it looked like they was about to demolish the road or something. So I’m stopped and I roll down my window to look around, but…” He looked side-to-side just moving his eyes and whispered, “Nothing. No one was around.”

“Man that’s weird.”

“No it ain’t. That ain’t even the weird part. So I back up, so I can go around the roadblock. I just turn at the turn before. I debated if I should take an alternative route, but I only had a little ways to go and there was nothing passed the roadblock. I get back around and—ain’t nothing there. Everything’s gone. In fact a car drove right past me like nothing. I thought I was on Candid Camera, but nobody came out.”

“That’s crazy.”

“It sure is.”

“Charlie, you ever thought it might’ve been someone playing a trick on you?”

“You know, I thought that too, but I told Walt the same story and he just figured they were doing construction. They’re planning on doing it over there anyway—is what I hear at least.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him, in fact I think I like the way he told the story more. Some things should remain a mystery, I think. He went back outside and went into the living room. I played my Sega Genesis Earthworm Jim 2. I didn’t much like the first one. The third level where you had to maneuver in the glass bubble was much too hard for me and I could never beat it.

Funny thing was, I spent the rest of the day doing nothing, but I enjoyed it. I went to bed devoid of responsibility.

Bringing the Writing to You: Daniel Terrill

Top 3 Things About Dan “Big Dan T.” Terrill 1. He taught me how to shoot a gun. (He works at guns.com.) 2. He has been at every single Neutron …

Creative Writing - Fiction MFA Chris Terry, chrislterry@gmail.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

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