As promised last week, here’s the more complete guide to Jack, our newest character. And as I mentioned last week, Jack was a very prominent part of this story in novel form. I sort of left him out of the comic because I honestly didn’t know I was going to turn my little page experiments into a real comic. But I have, and so I’ll be the first to admit, I’m shoehorning Jack into the story a little later than he really deserves.
After all, it was Jack who introduced Eleanor to Huffnagle Island, which means, sort of, that Jack might be responsible for her terrible accident.
I mean, he didn’t push her or anything. It was all her. But it never would have happened if not for him.
Here’s an early Jack scene from the novel, just for kicks:
Jack discovered the island first. He and his father had been watching the Olympics together. Gymnastics interested him, a little, but he was truly captivated by the high-divers who vaulted and twisted and speared into the water. The talking heads on the television observed that diving from such heights, before so many spectators, required a measure of courage and focus greater than the average human was equipped with.
Jack’s father snorted at that. I did twice that height when I was, oh, about your age, he said.
Twice! Jack said. Were you scared?
Only until I jumped, his father said. Do you know the island you can see from the beach?
They went on a Sunday morning, just after Jack’s mother had left for church. His father left the car on Argus Road, and as they trudged across the pebbled beach, he said, Don’t you tell your mother I brought you here.
What does Uncle Sonny call me?
You ever wonder why?
Jack shook his head.
Incurious boy, his father muttered. Well, this is why.
Jack watched his father untie a little yellow boat from the pier. His father let him row for awhile, and then took over. At the island, as they climbed, his father said, We would dive here, me and a couple of the boys. Your uncle Sonny, he never jumped. Too scared, mostly. He was always a nervous kid. We gave him a lot of shit, but we never really wanted him to jump. Good thing, too. You know how he is now.
Did he have the braces then?
Not until a few years later. Anyway. He would sit on the edge and cheer us on, right over there. Sometimes we’d run and leap right over his head. Scared the hell out of him, but we could hear him laughing all the way down.
Jack walked up to the edge of the cliff with his father. Why did they call you the Knife?
His father sat down and chucked a piece of rock out into space. Jack tried to trace its path all the way to the water, but lost it.
I was a pretty good diver when I was your age. The other guys, they’d cannonball over the edge, just fly out there like pinwheels. You don’t want to land on your belly or your back from this high up, that’s for damn sure. Me, I cut the sea so clean she just closed right up behind me. Stitched herself right on back together. No splash. Just clean.
Jack shuffled around behind his father while he talked.
Thing is, he went on, you gotta push off hard. Real, real hard. Because if you don’t, you won’t clear the rocks at the bottom. You definitely don’t want to hit those rocks at sixty miles an hour. None of us ever did. Chuck came close once.
Jack had stripped to the waist while his father was talking. Dad! he said, and when his father looked, Jack had taken a few steps back, and was running for the edge. His father’s heart dropped as fast and as far as Jack himself.
Then Jack surfaced, a good distance out, and Jack’s father slapped his oar-like hands together and shouted, Jack the Knife!
I don’t know if these novel excerpts are that interesting to anybody other than me, but with all the words I cut to distill this story down to a comic book, I kind of like preserving them here, just so they aren’t completely lost to history.
Happy Monday. A magical week to you all!