smithreynolds's picture
smithreynolds from Spokane, WA USA is reading The writing on the wall. September 4, 2016 - 5:01pm



Kedzie. I just figured it out yeterday and I 've been her for four months. In the ribbob, below the comment box on the far left it says Normal.Scan to the right thirteen clicks and there is the big ass quotation mark. See it? Click on it. gsr

 Click twice it goes away.

smithreynolds's picture
smithreynolds from Spokane, WA USA is reading The writing on the wall. September 4, 2016 - 5:01pm



Kedzie. I just figured it out yeterday and I 've been her for four months. In the ribbob, below the comment box on the far left it says Normal.Scan to the right thirteen clicks and there is the big ass quotation mark. See it? Click on it. gsr

 Click twice it goes away.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 4, 2016 - 6:55pm

Well I'd insert a picture but it doesn't seem to be possible in this forum...

Go three icons to the right of the Bold Itallic and Underline and see the bigass quotes there.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 4, 2016 - 8:13pm

I frown. “Yes, but I don’t personally know how. Most people don’t even know it’s possible, that’s a highly classified secret. So if you took them, odds are you’d be stuck with them. You could never go home.”
Her eyes drop. “This is my fight more than anyone’s.”
“I know. But, it might be better this way.”
“What's that supposed to mean? What, you don’t need me because you don’t need my eyes anymore? You think I can't keep up?”
“This way I don’t have to worry about anything happening to you.”
Her expression changes. She’s still angry, but not in the same way. “Well that’s not your decision to make.”

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 4, 2016 - 9:40pm

Hah! Thanks to Gail and Thuggish!

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 4, 2016 - 10:27pm

OK, just a couple more. I'm really jamming on this over the long Labor Day weekend and feel like putting it out there so I'll have to either live with it or improve it.

 

     “Billy, your pants… they’re soaked!” My boots were off; she had my calf in her palm.
     “Sweet Jesus, give me your jacket.” It was Johnny’s hand me down suede; a tattered rag of ice and road grime, every crease hid something terrible. Mrs. Morelli stood up and shook it like a sheet, a lone leather glove popped out, followed by a sooty mix of ice and snow spiked with motor oil. Another shake and the vile brew flew in every direction, like water from a sprinkler. “Mother Mary! What have you been doing in this thing?” She slid a hand down a pocket and winced as it came back wet, a fistful of whatever dripping through her fingers. “Billy, you can’t let this flimsy coat get soaked like this, you’ll catch pneumonia.”  

     Polio and Pneumonia: one for the kids and one for the parents. 

     Polio struck fear into the heart of even the most carefree child. There was a vaccine, of course, but we all knew kids who’d caught polio before the vaccine; others whose parents had been too drunk or stupid to follow the vaccine schedule. The polio kids walked the streets in metal leg braces, unable to play sports, clanking down the sidewalk in over-sized shoes. Most kids cut the other way when they saw a polio kid coming. They weren’t being mean; they were honestly scared they might catch it. Logically, they knew they were vaccinated and couldn't catch polio if they tried. Emotionally, they were outta there.

     Pneumonia stirred adult fears. Every parent had loved ones who’d died from pneumonia, and they shared their personal tragedies until each knew everybody else’s dead. If you came home wet - which was how you came home every day during winter – they’d yank off your clothes and send you straight into a scalding hot bath. And while you were in the water they paced just outside the cracked open door, reciting from memory the names of all the children “just like you” who’d died from pneumonia. The list was long and always growing. And lately it didn’t stop at pneumonia. After the pneumonia roll there’d be Joey from scarlet fever; Tommy from a heart valve caused by rheumatic fever; John and Jim, brothers only twelve and nine, from spinal meningitis contracted in the locker room at Marshfield YMCA, are you listening? Sally from diphtheria; Vincent, Michael and Jane, all friends of your father’s when he was just a boy about your age, and all from whooping cough; Eleni and Kamela from hepatitis; Grant from rubella and poor little Joey Maldonado from rickets. And now let that be a lesson to you! It didn’t matter that nobody died from any of these anymore, that we had vaccines and sulfa drugs to keep us alive; our parents spoke the dialect of disease.

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 8, 2016 - 10:11pm

OK, No mas!

She always answered in her nightclothes. A silk nightgown covered by a cotton robe during winter, but in summer it might be anything. Sometimes it was just the slip she’d worn under her dress that day. Other times it was a sleeveless nightgown. One time she answered in pink gym shorts and her husband’s white Dago-T, the round naked sides of her breasts rising and falling with each lift of her arms as she counted out the money. Another time she wore a skimpy lavender baby-doll, her black hair falling down across the shoulder straps. After that, whenever some adult asked my favorite color I always answered: “black on purple.” They had no clue. Her nightclothes were cotton, satin and silk. The colors white, black, blue, yellow, purple and pink, and they stayed in your mind forever. She wore slips with shoulder straps, winter nightgowns with long sleeves, and sleeveless summer nighties cut just below Home Plate. All this time as her paperboy and seeing her from every angle, I still never knew what to expect. But I knew one thing: she did it on purpose. She knew what she was doing and she liked that you looked.

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 8, 2016 - 10:13pm

I apologize for hogging so much real estate. My wife's a middle school librarian and has been sick for a week because—of course—as soon as school starts (and where we live the kids return in mid-August) everybody gets sick. This weekend is her turn. So she's asleep and I'm up feeling the need to connect.

Wish there was a reply field under each post, so that a "thread" would develop. That would facilitate commenting on other people's submissions. There are paragraphs on prior pages that I'd like to comment on, but I'm so late to the party that it would be confusing. I plan to be a good citizen and comment on the new ones that get posted.

Have a good Labor Day, and if you're not from the US have a great Monday!

smithreynolds's picture
smithreynolds from Spokane, WA USA is reading The writing on the wall. September 5, 2016 - 12:16am

@kedzie. Labor Day is a strange weekend. Thanks for being a good cititzen. I enjoyed your paragraphs, all of them. Really nice style, and voice.  I've wanted to reply to what people post here too, but is is awkward to do so if you don't catch it fast. You have a good Monday, and I hope your wife is feeling better. gsr

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 5, 2016 - 7:01am

Thanks Gail,

Well, she's currently out walking the dog, which she hasn't done in a week, so she's feeling much better.

This is not a good format for giving or getting feedback, however, I've discovered one great thing about it, it's fantastic for editing! In each case I cut what I'd written from my document but then upon pasting I edited (slicing out a goodly number of uneccesary words) both before and after posting the paragraphs.  

There's something about knowing that your work will get read that makes you more economical, and a better editor, and that is a great reason to use this forum.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 7, 2016 - 6:22am

^i've found the same thing regarding editing

something about having an audience...

smithreynolds's picture
smithreynolds from Spokane, WA USA is reading The writing on the wall. September 7, 2016 - 6:20pm

I guess I will post a paragraph:

 "Mondays were karaoke night at Mama Z's. Every girl that worked on the third floor loved karaoke night. Half of them wanted to be country singers, the rest torch singers . Monday nights were not good nights to sell pussy at Mama Z's. The dicks were tired and the pricks were broke and the girls just needed a night off. On Monday nights the house filled with wanna be Elvises, and Tony Bennet Crooners and office girls with a  young silky  rendition of "Bobby McGee", or Patsy Cline Crazy. It was that kind of club on Mondays. A little gayer, a little sexually raucous and Nineteen Thirties Berlin with flashes of jeans with no asses under a long flannel shirt and the air was three degrees warmer and seven shades of gray softer than any other night. On Monday nights Mama Z's was home, even for Mama Z.

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 8, 2016 - 11:07am

Gail, have you ever read a novel called Never Come Morning? Because there's a madam in it called Mama T. The T stands for Tomek. Are you paying homage here to America's greatest, albeit mostly unknown, writer?

(Enjoyed the passage. Am a sucker for anything about old fashioned houses of ill repute!) :-)

 

D.W. Behrend's picture
D.W. Behrend from New Jersey is reading Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield September 8, 2016 - 12:28pm

Gail,

Great scene setting with the description of Mama Z's. I am curious to see what will happen in this well-drawn setting.

Dave B. 

D.W. Behrend's picture
D.W. Behrend from New Jersey is reading Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield September 8, 2016 - 12:32pm

Here's another paragraph from my "Seedy Santa Mannequin" (working title) WIP. It's part of a dream sequence (or is it?). 

He held his eyes shut tight for what seemed an eternity, but there was no way to know just how long in the dream world. He finally opened them, looking out the window of the toy train once more. The green shag carpet had transformed to puffy white snow. The village was gone. The train no longer ran in a circle through the little Christmas village. It was chugging in a straight line, the track carrying it due north. Michael swallowed, doing his best to keep the nausea from rising in his throat. He feared where the train might be headed. Must be headed. North, to the pole, to the workshop where Santa and his helpers crafted the stuff of children’s dreams – and nightmares. He looked to the ends and sides of the train car, empty except for him. He saw no signs of an exit, emergency or otherwise. He turned in his seat, pivoting so his entire body faced the window. He raised his right leg and gave the glass a sharp, hard kick. A shock wave of pain rippled up his leg. The window remained, greasy and gray, revealing only the Arctic landscape outside.

Daltonwriting's picture
Daltonwriting from Charlotte, NC is reading As many short story collections as I can get my hands on September 8, 2016 - 6:37pm

From currently untitled murder "who done it" project:

The stillness of the night was interrupted by the scuff of a shoe against the porch surface as the figure approached her from behind.  Jessica didn’t bother to look up from her phone.  The ashes of her cigarette scattered the steps beneath her as the small snowflakes continued to fall.  As she took the final drag, Jessica was filled with the strange feeling that someone was reading over her shoulder.  As she turned her head to see what the figure wanted, a hand reached around and covered her mouth.  Before she could let out a muffled scream, an 8 inch utility knife was pulled from right to left across her neck.  Her pupils dilated in fear as she gasped, unable to catch her breath.  The knife had carved through her airway and nicked her carotid artery while slicing through her jugular vein.  Jessica reached up with her hands and fumbled at her neck, attempting to close the wound. The blood gushed between her fingers, causing her fingers to slide over the surface of her skin, unable to find purchase to slow the bleeding.  The ground around her dripped with blood, falling onto the steps, interspersed with the ashes of her cigarette and the few snowflakes that had made it to the surface of the earth without melting.  She tried to stand but as the blood emptied faster onto the steps, she fell to her side, knocking over her cocktail.  Like a fish out of water, her mouth kept opening and closing, gasping for air.  Her pupils centralized and a few bubbles escaped from her neck as her hands fell still beside her.  The blood continued to pool around her lifeless body.

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 8, 2016 - 7:26pm

Dave. Creepy!

Dalton. Very nice. Well, not really "nice" but you know what I mean. LOL!

 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 8, 2016 - 9:11pm

Dalton's a spacebar double-tapper...

Dun dun daaaaa!

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 9, 2016 - 9:45pm

I haven't yet found a place for this convo...

...But I do have a chapter that's largely unwritten...

“But every war uses guns and bombs, right? What if every war started using these weaponized viruses? It happened once, on accident, and your side got ‘even,’ for it… And now we’re at this turning point where it’ll either be that one-time-only thing, or we’ll start doing it all the time.”

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 11, 2016 - 12:36am

Beyond the staircase the basement is a dark wilderness you’ve never dared enter. But you do know some things about it. To your left are stacks of old furniture, things left by tenants over the years. There’s a coal shed straight ahead, a relic from the 19th century. The boiler room is to your right, all the way in back. A half dozen heating oil drums crouch like mastodons along the southeast wall. Dracula sleeps in an African Blackwood coffin by the oil drums. An enormous horsehair blanket covers the coffin; the dense wood and heavy hide serve to mask the vampire’s odor, an acrid, biting pungency like skunk and vinegar. Imperial Home Heating Oil sends the same two men out monthly to refill the tanks. The men are well compensated and smart enough to stay incurious. Like yourself, they also never get sick.

Daltonwriting's picture
Daltonwriting from Charlotte, NC is reading As many short story collections as I can get my hands on September 10, 2016 - 4:26pm

@Kedzie...Love the :"an acrid, biting pungency like skunk and vinegar".  I can smell that.  @Thuggish Can't stop the double-space tap

 

Marjorie had visited the closest franchise store and informed them that she recently had rescued a new family member.  She needed the best on the market, only the best would do.  As she unwrapped the packing and began to read the safety warnings, she was slightly alarmed.  Why on earth would a dog leash need an instruction manual?  It warned of amputation, decapitation, mutilation, and castration.  It warned of predation, cremation, and even aspiration.  This was no ordinary dog walking device.  This was different.  This required precaution.  It said to never let anyone play with the leash.  It said to never use with a disobedient or uncontrolled dog.  It particularly warned of injury to bystanders.  Marjorie figured that she should do some serious at home research before attaching this death trap to her new pride and joy.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami September 10, 2016 - 6:30pm

The first scene of Catherina Of Incarnation:

Life in the abstract, breath is taken away. Pouring in the drops of tears. Death in purest form. The new world sun. Severance, all the solitude. Life in one's pursuit. From Australian landmarks, to Russian can can dancers, you'll never see a guillotine. Yet for me all I see is the blond girl, once a goose girl.

The tops of her dress is ripped, exposing her neck.

In her wooden shoes, gently and trembling she lowers her neck onto the lower stock. There is a drum roll, men with bayonets. The angular blade falls down. Head, with the light locks, severance of neck. Perpetual what ifs motion. Stump. Barely old enough to read the darker and grimmer Goldilocks, as she wore shoes with no socks.

Her clogs are sold on the open market, gambled on by deranged bidding. Then landed a spot in the museum of anonymity, of 19th century artifacts.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 11, 2016 - 6:55am

@Dalton

I thought I'd never quit either. It was gone in a week.

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 10, 2016 - 10:53pm

Dalton: is that the Martingale 2000? :-) I actually have a pooch who requires a Martingale. Those babies work as advertised. Thuggish. Ya lost me. Have no idea what you're referencing, above. But ya lost me on your evolution/survival of the fittest post too. Thus we have a consistent inability to communicate. 

More on Drac. (Or maybe moron Drac) 

     Third floor. Here are the infamous killers, the ones everybody thinks are dead or were fictional. A squeak in the floorboard as you place the morning edition at Jack The Ripper’s door. The door swings open and Jack is above you. “Nice work, Eddie.” 
     Dracula is next. It’s morning and he’s sleeping. But the vampire has servants who rush out to confront you over the smallest change in routine. Which is why you’re a creature of routine. Each day before sunrise you hunt down the best newspaper in your stack, the one with no tears, folds or smudges. You place this paper upright on its spine. Never folded, never rubber banded, this one travels first class in the canvas sack slung over your handlebars. You surround this perfect paper with others of quality. They are rolled and folded and you pack them in tight, assuring the chosen paper travels protected. You ride your route in sunshine, down tree-lined streets amongst the birds and honeybees, all the while babysitting Dracula’s paper. Now you place this paper at the vampire’s door, flatten its edges and step back. It is a fine specimen.

    

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 11, 2016 - 6:55am

^oops. that was supposed to be @daloton. editing in a moment...

what "evolution...fittest" post are you talking about?

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 19, 2016 - 7:55pm

This one from "Weekend Writing Goals."It reads: "Hmm, I'm not sure if evolution is done with the human species or not, but I'm pretty sure that the survival of the fittest aspect is over. At least in the first world."

My last Dracula post...


In the bag slung over my handlebars there was one more paper than yesterday and a new delivery card: Apartment 208. The dead girl’s photos carouseled across my brain, never more than a thought away. No, I did not want to meet the new man in #208. I wanted to fake sick, go home and crawl in bed. But that was impossible. Dracula had long ago made the price of my absence clear. The vampire was more than five hundred years old, he did not need to threaten for me to know what would become of my family should I exhibit recalcitrance or unreliability. And indeed, since that first night when he’d made himself known to me I'd never been sick. Nor had I broken any bones, despite sometimes trying to. Our parents never took us anywhere. No vacations or overnight excursions. I was his perfect paperboy.

 

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel September 11, 2016 - 11:28am

Just a random rant. Thought I would share for no other reason that I think it should wander aimlessly through the void that is the internet. To be lost. To be forgotten the second after it is read. 

Are these posts about 9/11 supposed to be cathartic, or are they supposed to incense and justify? Granted, let us not forget, but to what end? So that it doesn't happen again? But how far are we willing to strangle the constitution to achieve that end? Should we live in a dangerous world and free, or should we grow accustomed to the gilded cage? How many people can we kill to ensure our safety before we become the terrorists? Can we become the terrorists? Or is this about honoring the dead? Or should we not say "dead" but "those who lost their lives." Is the rhetoric important? If it is about honoring those who lost their lives, on that day to this, because of the attacks, to what end? Ritual? Tradition? Catharsis? To incense? To justify future acts because of...? How long did the country hold onto the memory of Pearl Harbor before people remembered, but moved on? Did we move on? Must the generation that lived during the time die before we let go of the anger? Must we, those who lived during those days, die off before we allow the country to move on? If we can move on. Will we be wrinkled and gray, most dead, but those last few, sitting in their chairs, still holding onto the day? Holding on to that grudge? Will we only remember the attack and the anger, then the unifying and the determination? Will we forget the lies, atrocities, loss of freedoms, innocent children killed, trillions of dollars spent or blatantly wasted, money that could have gone to feeding the starving, money that could have gone into education? Every year the day will come and we'll take our memories, dust them off, present them as our reason, our justification, for every day forward in our lives. Will our children look at us with sympathy, like we did for those who lived during WWII, Korea, Vietnam, understanding that we became stuck in our past? Have we become stuck in our past? Or is it just me? Am I the only one who feels lost there, never to move on, constantly feeling like I need to justify my actions since that day? So are the posts about 9/11 supposed to be cathartic? Or what? What are they supposed to do?

-Sincerely, respectfully,

Stuck in the past

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 11, 2016 - 9:54pm

Only in America can we lose 3,000, oh wait, you're saying almost half weren't US citizens? OK, make that 2,000, go out and kill a million and still feel like we got the raw deal. Shows how we view the ROW, and why every year we have to relive our pain. Trump accent: "Because ours is the worst pain, that I can tell you."  

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 11, 2016 - 1:00pm

Funny, the only people I ever see posting that "never forget" shit are the ones who treat it like a natural disaster more than a terrorist attack.

Oh shit, hijack alert... NEW THREAD!

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 11, 2016 - 9:01pm

@ Kedzie

Ohhh, that thing.

Well, survival of the fittest is the thing where the strong survive and the weak perish. The most fit to survive pass on their genes while the less fit to survive do not pass on their genes.

Go to a Walmart today and then try and tell me that the best humanity has to offer is outbreeding the worst...

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 11, 2016 - 9:57pm

Thuggish: Yeah I get all that. Just don't get who you were replying to. It looked like you were replying to my anecdotal story about 1975, and I was left perplexed by that. 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 12, 2016 - 7:51am

I don't think so...

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann September 12, 2016 - 7:51am

Yay! So many new posts from people. Great to see everyone's writing. Here's a thing before I scurry back beneath the rock I currently live under thanks to my classes.

I remember the car ride to the airport. Just me and Dad. It was overcast and the A/C was too high. The CD went in the stereo first thing before he even buckled his seatbelt—Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A., start to finish. No singing along. Mom had just gotten him this thermos that wouldn’t fit right in the cup-holder, so he had to grip it between his legs the whole drive. The only time he spoke to me on the way there was when we stopped for gas. He tried a couple more times to force the thermos into the cup-holder before he handed it over. He said, “Hold this.” The smell of gasoline still reminds me of sitting there in this awful silence—silence like a gaping void after he shut both Springsteen and the engine off—holding his warm coffee, staring out at the overcast sky with the hairs sticking up on my arms, still cold from the A/C. Dancing in the Dark jumped back on louder than either of us remembered as soon as he started the car up. He dialed the volume way down, and then it was too quiet the rest of the way there. The stupid CD player in his old Camry would loop back to the first song whenever a disc ended. The title track played over again when we pulled up to the curb in front of LaGuardia. He wouldn't look at me when he pulled the luggage Mom packed for me out of the trunk and dropped it on the sidewalk. Not when he handed over my ticket, or when he slammed the door and drove off. He told me my gate number and that I’d have to check the bags. He didn't say goodbye. He gave me cash.

I don’t know if he meant for me to, but it would’ve been easy to run away.

D.W. Behrend's picture
D.W. Behrend from New Jersey is reading Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield September 17, 2016 - 6:43am

Revising the first draft of a short story and came across this one, which I like and figured I would post. 

The slightest of smiles comes to his lips as he thinks of their life together in the old city, where he and Mandy would explore twisting cobblestone streets, ferreting out dank watering holes, faded diners, and odd ethnic restaurants serving unpronounceable dishes for little more than the price of a bus token. They would eat and drink and smoke and laugh, listen to music in dark, smoky taverns, strike up booze-fueled conversations with artists, actors, writers, self-styled mystics, rejects and other denizens of the old city. Then they would stumble back to their tiny, dimly lit one-bedroom apartment and drink some more and smoke and fuck and smoke and drink some more.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies September 19, 2016 - 7:18am

The opening to the latest story I'm shopping, "Battle Not With Monsters:"

When the red sea of rage washes over me, I picture a house on a hill, far away from the rest of the world, a band of oak trees around it, full of greenery, a singular whisper of smoke drifting up into the sky—a place where nobody will get hurt. It’s where I like to go, my safe place, that house on the hill, my skull vibrating with dark thoughts. I find myself sitting in my sterile kitchen, it happens all the time—white cabinets with white countertops and white linoleum floor. There are sharp silver blades lined up on the Formica table—chef’s knife and paring knife, filet knife and cleaver—like soldiers waiting to go off to war, or missiles ready to launch. I am entirely naked, pale skin splotchy and flushed, a splatter of blood on every white surface, and then I blink, and it’s all gone. There is nothing to see here, no—not tonight. Out in the back yard winter pushes ice over everything, trees with skeletal branches reaching to the sky, their screams muted, their voices never heard. A huge metal oil drum sits outside my humble home, in the middle of the concrete pad, flames licking the darkness, whatever I had been wearing now reduced to ash.

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 19, 2016 - 7:57pm

> There are sharp silver blades lined up on the Formica table—chef’s knife and paring knife, filet knife and cleaver—like soldiers waiting to go off to war, or missiles ready to launch.

Nice. Can see it vividly.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 19, 2016 - 9:21pm

I recall the fear in her eyes when she looked up at me. I didn't care then, not really. Maybe some. Now I wish she'd never had to experience that. I squeeze her hand gently.

"People shouldn't die that way." She shakes her head. "Not feeling like that."

"How should they die?"

"Peacefully."

smithreynolds's picture
smithreynolds from Spokane, WA USA is reading The writing on the wall. September 21, 2016 - 7:10pm



It is quiet tonight in the gentle rub of stars and quiet talking. The cozy sound of ice in a glass and a splash and steps on the stairs down to the studio and the iron green wedge of light that hits the wall when the studio door opens and the long silent smoking time precedes the bliss of strings and chords and frets and picks.

Vonnegut Check's picture
Vonnegut Check from Baltimore September 23, 2016 - 7:58am

Kedzie, I see you're reading The Things They Carried. There is no better book out there, fiction or non-fiction, although In The Lake of The Woods comes close. How are you liking it? That collection is a master class in storytelling, no?

 

Anyhow, on to the thread topic at hand. Here's the first quarter of an opening paragraph to a novel I'm working on.

—because I’m sitting there rolling a fry in the ketchup I’d squirted on a napkin when this fatlipped sophomore, Jeff Reese, aka JR, he comes over with his tray, makes himself comfortable and brags, unprompted, about an English lit major with rockhard legs he fingered on this catpiss sofa of some rager last weekend with people playing beer pong not more than two feet away, music all blaring. And this girl, he says, this girl wanted it soooo bad, yo, but she was like weird, too. Kept saying like the creepiest kinds of shit. Like did Jeff ever notice how come gourds look like diseased penises? Shaking his head, JR goes, “White girls, yo, they freaks.” Next, my phone vibrates against my thigh, and thank God for the reprieve, not that I answer to any sort of porkhating cloud dweller, this is in the figurative sense, because if a god truly reigned then ineffectuals like Jeff wouldn’t exist.

smithreynolds's picture
smithreynolds from Spokane, WA USA is reading The writing on the wall. September 23, 2016 - 5:39pm



" Pull the trigger, shit-bag."

The low voice growled over his left shoulder so close  he could feel warmth of breath, and the propellant "P: on the delicate skin of the top of his left ear. His scalp clenched in a constriction of terror. He was holding the gun in his two hands, cradled against his belly. His breathing stopped. The squeeze of his eyelids against the black squirted the dark with extravagant splashes of red winged thunder in the cave above his bulging eyes.

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 23, 2016 - 8:38pm

Vonnegut Check: I was reading it when I signed up two years ago. Loved it! Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! And as true as it gets. Had friends who died there, others who came back damaged, still others (more of these actually) who returned and went on to incredibe success, in part because of who they were before they went, and maybe also because if you can survive Vietnam unscathed everything else becomes a piece of cake.    

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 23, 2016 - 8:41pm

Vonnegut Check: I was reading it when I signed up two years ago. Loved it! Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! And as true as it gets. Had friends who died there, others who came back damaged, still others (more of these actually) who returned and went on to incredibe success, in part because of who they were before they went, and maybe also because if you can survive Vietnam unscathed everything else becomes a piece of cake.    

Daltonwriting's picture
Daltonwriting from Charlotte, NC is reading As many short story collections as I can get my hands on September 24, 2016 - 7:44am

Playing with dialogue. This excerpt comes from a piece I'm working on called "21 Ways to Die..."

“Well, officer I was just so shocked. I mean there were pieces of wood sticking all out of Ms. Nancy. I mean she looked like a bloodied up pin cushion with the wood pieces all sticking out her neck every which way. I tried to see if I could help her some, but I’s afraid I’d mess up something impotant. That’s when I gone and called the police.”

Vonnegut Check's picture
Vonnegut Check from Baltimore September 24, 2016 - 7:59am

Kedzie: what's your favorite story from that collection? I've read that book at least a dozen times but it's always "How To Tell A True War Story" for me. Hands down the best story I've ever read, from anyone, period.

Now, I'm much too young, thirty-three, to have any friends who served in Vietnam, but I've got quite a few coworkers who went to college to avoid the draft. All of which dropped out of college once the war ended.

 

Daltonwriting: "That's when I gone and called the police" is an excellent example of voice and characterization.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 24, 2016 - 8:59am

Daltonwriting: "That's when I gone and called the police" is an excellent example of voice and characterization.

I agree. I also want to throw something out there.

IF (key word) the person speaking is not very educated and/or intelligent (which I'm guessing based on saying "gone and called"), the other sentences he/she speaks are rather well put together

EDIT: probably just the "bloodied up pin cushion" sentence... 

smithreynolds's picture
smithreynolds from Spokane, WA USA is reading The writing on the wall. September 24, 2016 - 9:15am

@Thuggish. Speech patterns that to one person might suggest lack of education or intelligence to another might suggest something totally different.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 24, 2016 - 11:49am

maybe, like i said, i'm just tossing it out there.

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 25, 2016 - 12:46pm

Vonnegut Check: How To Tell A True War Story would be my favorite, if not for the fact that one of the older guys from my block who died in The Nam did so due to the things he carried.

They were a small squad moving through swamps in Charlie's backyard. My friend stepped over a crater left from a bombing run and went straight down. Even dropping his M-16, the rucksack and combat boots made swimming back up to the surface impossible. And his fellow soldiers couldn't help, as they were as weighted down as him. Plus, the squad had orders to be quiet, lest Charlie discover them.

So our friend drowned with less than two weeks left on his tour.

There's a website where you can look up casualties by name. I don't have the link handy, but it's out there. You get back the hometown and cause of death. Not every soldier who died in Vietnam is listed, and less than half have cause of death displayed. But he's there, and when I saw Chicago: Drowned it stopped me cold.

So for me the leadoff (title) story with its brilliant slow rollout of all the things—physical and emotional—that they carried with them into war was a powerful way to begin and I'm partial to that one.

Gotta love the one pager where the guy breaks his own nose!

Also, On The Rainy River, an area that I've fished extensively (have fished Lake of The Woods even more) and a dilemma that I also faced, albeit, with a much luckier outcome (I did not have to go). 

Sheri Attani Rohrbacher's picture
Sheri Attani Ro... from San Jose, CA is reading The Blindfold by Siri Hustvedt September 26, 2016 - 8:28pm

The beginning of "The Marianas Web". Haven't finished it. May even scrap it although I kind of like the beginning.

In website development they say that content is a design problem. Whoever, whatever designed us did not take that into consideration. What is life but the illusion of substance? Global attributes found in humans; broken links, disabled buttons, hidden fields. Shit for navigation. If you can find functionality, it's a fucking miracle.

But I should start at the beginning.

A cold, steady rain muffled the Tenderloin, forcing addicts into shelters or, for the diehards, doorways. Most of the smaller storefronts were darkened, their employees scampered home to space heaters and a bowl of hot soup, happy to be secure in their compact cube of light. An occasional car sliced through the slick streets throwing up backwash like an afterthought.

A 5 floor, 1940's walk-up crouched between taller buildings, a pockmark on the City of Love. Neon lights reflected onto a third floor window, the colors broken up by raindrops forming an Impressionist painting, as ephemeral as innocence. Beyond the reflection, a man slumped against a wall seemingly staring out at the night.

A single sheet was bunched up on a twin mattress while a lamp with a stained shade illuminated a battered dresser as it squat against the damp wall, its glare waning before reaching the other side of the room. In a closet without a door, sat a white plastic chair and small table with a laptop covered by a veil of dust.

On the carpet, a vodka bottle lay empty. Near the bottle, Vic lapsed further into the mindless void.

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien September 26, 2016 - 10:09pm

A 5 floor, 1940's walk-up crouched between taller buildings, a pockmark on the City of Love. Neon lights reflected onto a third floor window, the colors broken up by raindrops forming an Impressionist painting, as ephemeral as innocence. Beyond the reflection, a man slumped against a wall seemingly staring out at the night.

Scratch "seemingly" and make it "the" wall and you've captured the Tenderloin beautifully.