Abrupt Edge Diary - 19

This is the eighteenth in a series about the construction of the novel-in-progress, Abrupt Edge

18.  What’s going on in Abrupt Edge

I promised to write a synopsis of the novel to this juncture in the manuscript. These are the threads of narrative that interweave to make Abrupt Edge:

  • The story of Jacob Gleason, a decent guy tending toward nerd, adrift, unfulfilled, looking for someplace to make his mark.
  • The story of Isaac and Asenath Wayman, cousins and exiles from a Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint enclave who now run Abrupt Edge, a “sex spa,” out in the middle of a Nevada high desert nowhere.
  • The enmity between Isaac Wayman and his brother, Abraham, leader of an offshoot FLDS enclave called Glory, over a mountain spur from Abrupt Edge. This enmity leads to an armed conflict that is dubbed The Glory War.
  • The love story between Jacob and Gloria Bennett, a one time prostitute working in Abrupt Edge’s brothel, Carne Viva, but now Isaac Wayman’s personal, private executive secretary.

Jacob Gleason dreams of being an author.  He’s three years out of college, cranking out short stories, sending them out and collecting rejection slips.  Beginning to doubt his choice of vocations, he googles “writing jobs” and comes up with an enticing post that ultimately leads him to Abrupt Edge.  On the way, like a knight in an Arthurian tale, he’s tested, offered alternative choices, tempted, but in the end persists and arrives in the north of (imaginary) Mulee County, Nevada, to discover that what he thought was a job ghosting an autobiography is really a job memorializing a war between two madmen and their followers.

It doesn’t seem real, the place is truly Shangri La, and the notion of reporting on this Shangri La shooting it out with another one around the mountain seems about as remote as his being asked to write an episode of Saving Grace.

Besides, Isaac Wayman’s assigned his secretary to be Jacob’s mentor while he’s learning his way around Abrupt Edge.  She is articulate and smart, beautiful but approachable, a woman that sets off bells and other alarums in his soul.

Slowly but surely, he learns how this war with Glory may come about.  It seems Abraham Wayman’s own daughter, Marian, has run away to Abrupt Edge and is even now being groomed to become one of the functionaries at Carne Viva.  Jacob can’t believe Isaac won’t send her back.  It’s inevitable her father will seek a way, however violent, to get her back.

Meanwhile, Jacob has his first interview with a client, a young man named Justin DeFord, whose rich uncle thinks the Abrupt Edge experience will do his nephew good.  Justin, however, is not getting with the program:  he’s having moral qualms.  And his moral qualms resonate with Jacob.  They talk into the night and agree to meet for breakfast, but at breakfast there is no Justin.  He’s disappeared, and the best bet is, he’s been kidnapped by Gloryites, to be swapped for Marian.

That’s where I am right now.  There’s more than one way I can go with from here, alternative endings, all consistent with the character’s inclinations, and I’ll discuss those in the next posting.

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