Here's a cut from the novel in progress:
"After the second trip to the attic, Don slumped on the double bed that Michelle had taken pains to beautify with new sheets and a counterchange quilt, and tried to catch his breath. He considered himself in decent shape for a flabby-assed geezer. He ran every other day and lifted a set of dumbbells Kurt had left in the garage. This however, was a bit much. He put his head between his knees. Thunder crashed much closer than before. From this height, the crow’s nest as it were, the storm was impressive. The roof seemed as if it might be torn apart at any moment. Gray, bloodless light came through a single window smudged with grime and fly droppings.
The room was crowded by racks of mothballed clothes, bookshelves crammed with moldy picture books and magazines such as Life and Time--and an array of antique dolls. Aunt Yvonne had been a collector; some of the dolls went back to the Civil War; she’d even acquired a wooden Indian, the kind shopkeepers once set on the sidewalk. It waited in the shadows, dust-caked, its termite-riddled aspect rather ghoulish, hatchet edged and emaciated; the portrait of a Cherokee chief cut down by starvation and smallpox, an angry soul condemned to haunt the attic.
Tucked in an alcove was an ancient Westinghouse projector alongside dozens of film canisters whose labels were mostly illegible due to yellowing and that terrible Mock handwriting. Those few that proved comprehensible were pure argot: Hierophant Exp. 10/38; Mt. Fuji Exp. 10/46; Crng (Beatrice J. ) 10/54; Astrobio Smt. 8/81(keynote T. Ryoko & H. Campbell), Ekaltadeta, and so on. Stacked in the corners were dusty wooden crates and steamer trunks papered with stamps from exotic ports of call. A handful of these objects were newer, holdovers from Michelle’s expeditions to Africa, Malaysia, Polynesia, and a dozen other regions.
Several oil paintings lay under canvas, propped against an easel, and largely unfinished; the labors of an unknown artist. The pieces were disquieting. Impressionist work; the subjects were deformed humanoids dwarfed by unwholesome man-beast figures and indistinct objects of unremittingly baroque dimensions. These latter struck him as tribal renderings of anthropomorphic gods and the cyclopean ziggurats wherein such beings would naturally dwell, the whole as filtered through the lens of someone possessed of a Western European sensibility. Possibly someone with a psychological disorder or a deviant fetish for the grotesque. He’d avoided mentioning the paintings to Michelle for fear she’d form a morbid attachment to them and insist on hanging the “masterpieces” in prominent locations.
Even worse was a poster-sized black and white photograph of a tall, gangling figure in half profile looming over a misshapen dwarf against a featureless background of white and gray. Both wore stiff suits and Homburgs; the freakishly proportioned thin man, whose hands and neck possessed all too many joints, wore rimless black glasses while the dwarf grinned at the camera through a devilish beard. The photo was likely shot during the Depression era going by the striations and patina of composition, although identification was difficult due to yellowing and a layer of dust. R & friend was scribbled in the corner. Don didn’t care for either of the men and wondered who they were and what became of them.
He smiled wryly—if this was what Mock men looked like in their declining years, no wonder they maintained a low profile. Behind the photograph were several others, but these were scorched and ruined, edges curled and charred from flame, giving the impression someone had tossed them in a fire and then relented too late, and neither heads nor tails could be discerned regarding the subjects."