The following is a chapter from an unfinished novel called The Life and Times Of Carter Edwards. The book is a story about a young man who lived "south of here." No matter how hard he tried, life always held him down. Not that he wasn't ambitious and desirous of a fulfilling life, it's just a case of ol'man hard luck was always getting the best of him.
Scott's posting about Apple and Bill Gates reminded me of the chapter called The Virus, presented to my patrons in two parts.
Carter Edwards felt the world was passing him by. Not because his 65 Plymouth sedan would, like clock work quit running about six miles from home, whether coming or going. No, it wasn't car problems that befuddled Carter this day since he knew a ride could always be had if he stood out on the two-lane long enough.
Life's bitter downfall as Carter saw it, stemmed from his down-home lifestyle. Now you must understand the Edward's family lived rather simply, tucked away in a old house without electricity nor household appliances. The nearly 75 year-old pile of lumber and nails lie surrounded by woods, swamps and rather painful briars. Their completely deplorable housing situation ended three years ago when the government offered a grant to update some of the more rickety dwellings in McCarver County.
Carter's feeling of isolation only intensified while he sat in the government office helping his folks sign the contracts necessary for running electricity to their home. In his boredom he leafed through an outdated glossy periodical entitled Computer Savvy. Truth be known anything more complicated than a back porch swing befuddled Carter. Yet the idea of owning a computer suddenly excited him.
"Yup," he mumbled, "a computer is just what I need."
Carter figured if he owned a computer he would then be nearly as smart as his cousin Jerrold, who the family admired because he had a job which required a written test. Well, actually, it was just an application form, but in this family, filling out an application is a test.
Good fortune came to Carter the very next day. While digging around at the Bristol Holler Swap Shop and Used Car Emporium for a solenoid he found an old used computer. The pile of tangled wires, keyboard and screens dated back about 15 years but that did little to deter the excited young man.
Now the Edward's household, numbering around 12 inhabitants, depending who was leaving, running away from ,or being told to leave home, had the reputation of being a superstitious clan, with Grandma Lizzie being the worse. She swore to the idea since electricity was now running haphazardly all through the house, the invisible power would slowly kill them. This fear stemmed from the slow gas leak that blew most of the Edward's shack to smithereens back in ‘72, sending gramps and his rocker sailing back into the briars surrounding the slough.
The clatter of Melvin Dabit's pick-up could be heard descending the long steep driveway leading to the Edward's home that humid summer day. Carter jumped out of the truck, grabbed the pile of computer parts and after an awkward parting jester ran into the house allowing the screen-less back door to slap loudly behind him.
Carter knew the real world would soon await his every command if he could just get the computer wired up and plugged in. He read an article in the Computer Savvy magazine about getting your checking account on the computer. The misguided young man thought a checking account would literally be waiting for him to sign onto as soon as the dusty off-white machine came to life. Even more exciting was the idea of meeting girls, hundreds of them in fact, with just a magic push of a button.
With computer parts now scattered across his bedroom all he needed was an extension cord to reach into the kitchen, since the only outlet on that side of the house was found there. Carter ran out to the shed and dug through nearly a dozen boxes until he found a dried brittle cord. Gramps once used it to secure his rocker to the porch in case another gas explosion was to occur. Now that gramps wondered off his family put his belongings out back in the shed.
Carter flew through the back door, plugged in the old pile of wires and plastic into the socket and hoped for science to reward him greatly for all his efforts. He pushed the on-off switch and sat back.
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