The Brick Murder: A Tragedy
and other stories
The Brick Murder: A Tragedy and Other Stories is a collection that asks “What if?” What if God got bored with His creation? What if you were paid to be someone’s friend? What if the Holy Ghost was out to get you? What if everybody was talking about you behind your back? What if the only answer was ‘your brick, his head’? What if your new job was executive assistant to Death?
ISBN: 978-1-60489-069-3 Trade paper: $18.95 Sale $6.00
ISBN: 978-1-60489-068-6 Library binding $29 Sale $11.00
Kurt Ayau is an American fiction writer of Cape Verdean heritage. His novel, What the Shadow Told Me, co-written with David Rachels under the pseudonym Kurtis Davidson, won the 2003 Pirate’s Alley/Faulkner Society Award and was published in 2005. He lives in Virginia with his wife and two daughters. Kurt Jose Ayau is an associate professor of English at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. He is the author, with David Rachels, of What the Shadow Told Me, the 2003 winner of the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society's Faulkner/Wisdom Competition for the novel. His award-winning short fiction has appeared in literary magazines across the country.
Excerpt from the Book:
Murray and the Holy Ghost
Tonight before he goes to sleep, as he has done every night for the past three weeks, Murray gets on his knees to check under the bed for the Holy Ghost.
“There’s nothing under your bed,” his mother says.
“I know that,” Murray says, letting the bedspread fall back in place and climbing up on the bed. He pulls his Rocket Squid cartoon bedspread up to his chin and blinks at his mother. “Read me that story about Bloody Bones the Pirate again.”
“Isn’t that going to give you bad dreams?” his mother asks.
Murray shakes his head. “I don’t dream about pirates.”
His mother pulls the book from Murray’s bookshelf and sits in the rocker next to the bed. She opens the book.
“‘Yo ho ho and a bucket of blood,’ yelled First Mate Billy Scars.”
Murray lies in bed, the covers up to his nose now, and stares at the ceiling as his mother reads the tale of the infamous pirate, Bloody Bones. Murray’s eyes, focused on the middle distance of nowhere, soon fill with images of the bobbing ship, The Cutthroat, its bright white sails puffing with wind, and the dastardly crew of murderers, thieves and scoundrels getting ready to attack an innocent cargo ship.
“The battle cry of the notorious pirate, Bloody Bones, filled the sails of his fearsome ship, The Cutthroat,” his mother continues. “‘Prepare for action!’ First Mate Billy Scars cried.”
Murray is almost immediately asleep, running a pirate movie in his mind, except imagined
sight of sails snapping in the wind reminds him of ghosts and thinking of ghosts gets him thinking of the Big Ghost, the Holy Ghost, and he shivers a little, but that soon passes and before his mother has reached page three, he is softly wheezing bubblegum toothpaste breath into his covers.
“Night, baby,” his mother says and creeps from the room.
Recess. Grades one through three of Elmerville Elementary School are careering around the playground from monkey bars to four-square to tetherball to insect-smashing to kickball and back again like the frenzied electrons of an unstable atom. It is the first week in April and exuberant white clouds scud across the sky, dragging swift shadows over grass and asphalt and sand and metal.
Murray stands fifteen feet away from three of his friends who are using marbles to crush ants into the blacktop near the basketball court. The boys work silently while Murray shields his eyes from the sun with his hand and watches the clouds. Down here on the ground it is calm, but up there a fierce wind must be blowing, because the parade of clouds doesn’t slow down. Murray tries to see shapes in the puffs and billows. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. A poodle, maybe. Nothing. Nothing. A rocketship. Nothing. Nothing. A football.
A boy walks up next to him and stands watching the sky.
“That big one there looks like boogers. That one there looks like boogers on a bicycle. That one there looks like a butt. That one looks like dinosaur poop.”
Murray looks at the boy, who is picking his nose as he surveys the sky.
“What’s dinosaur poop look like?” Murry asks.
The boy snorts. “Like that right there,” he says, pointing to the cloud he has just described.
The boy is in one of the other second grade classes. Murray knows him only from chance encounters on the playground and the occasional inter-class kickball game. The word is that the kid eats boogers.
“A dinosaur butt,” the kid says. “Dinosaur boogers.”
Murray looks at the sky and out of the corner of his eye sees the kid slip his finger from his nose into his mouth. A booger eater.
Murray squints at the clouds, suspicious. None of the clouds comes close to looking like what Murray expects the Holy Ghost to look like. His expectations are vague, but he knows he’ll know when he sees the right shape.
“A poodle with a shotgun,” the kid next to him says. “Poodle boogers.”