Saturday, April 14, 2007
Writing Exercise Results
The challenge was to write up to 200 words based on the following prompt:
Miss Snark spends Friday night blubbering. In the morning she burns the shoe boxes and computer containing her seven unpublishable novels, and gets a new tattoo in preparation for her blind date with Arnold Patterson, pizza driver. Is she at rock bottom yet?
1. The dame had finally come unhinged. Papers were strewn everywhere. The room smelled like bathtub gin, smoke, and failure. Only the smoke was new.
Lemme start by saying I've killed before. Not proud of it, but it keeps the kibble in my bowl. I once shot a man just fifteen feet from his old lady. Don't get me wrong; he'd been scamming prose-pushers for fourteen years. He had it coming to him. His old lady, though, she had nothing to do with it. I let myself feel sorry for her. She cried the carpet wet enough to drown a fish.
That woman had nothing on my dame.
I've never been good at dealing with nothing on two legs, so I decided I'd grab myself a London Dry and get out of her way. If I stayed, she'd throw something, and I'd be stuck cleaning up the mess. Then I saw it: her arm'd been inked. “Arnold Patterson,” written in a blood-red heart. My own heart just about stopped. They say the boy delivers for Paccinis, but my mole tells me what's in those boxes don't taste good with parmesan.
The name's Yap. I wear a tam.
2. The scent of Pepperoni filled the cab. Miss Snark wiped the seat before sitting down, hoping Arnold didn’t notice her grimace of disgust.
“Watch out for that Four Cheese,” he said, indicating a box under her stilettos. “I said we’d drop it off on the way to the bar.”
“The bar?” Miss Snark couldn’t help adding venom to the words. “Not a restaurant?”
Arnold shrugged. “Nah. I though we could grab a few beers, shoot some pool . . . maybe watch the game on the big screen.”
“Beer?” The concept was familiar only because it was the choice of antagonists.
“Sure.” He looked across at her. “Light for you, since you’re a lady.” He looked back to the street. “What the f-?” Arnold slammed on the brake so hard that the pizza beneath her feet became garlic bread with a side serving.
Miss Snark looked out of the windshield. In the middle of 5th Avenue, they were being held up by a poodle with a rocket launcher. She smiled and opened the door. “Sorry Arnold,” she said. “I don’t need the clue rocket after all. I suggest you query the east side girls.”
3. On the evening of her date, the portion of her tattoo depicting a tiny cluegun stings like a blistering sunburn. She calls Arnold three times, intent upon canceling. But Arnold is the only life form in the 212 without voicemail. Wincing, she dabs the tattoo with gin, then dons a pair of five-seasons-old Manolo Blahniks, a bulky sweater and her longest skirt, only two inches above the knee.
The subway car swarms with dozens of wanna-be rappers, actors and models, practicing their moves in the reflection of grime-streaked windows. She recites passages from Chekhov's "The Three Sisters" to keep her mind off the tattoo and her fellow travelers.
As she approaches the agreed-upon assignation spot, the third monkey statue from the banana tree at Epicurious George, her eyes are drawn to a lanky silver-haired man whose hand rests on the monkey's shoulder for support. Her gait slows as her heart quickens.
He turns her way with hooded eyes and a dimpled smirk that graces his chiseled jaw. "Miss Snark?"
A quiver runs through her 40" legs, but she recovers with a hand to her hip. "That's my monkey, Clooney."
4. "Patterson, Patterson, Pizza Man:
stretch me thinly, quick as you can . . . "
The woman who steps out of the shower is unrecognizable: gone are the tight business lips, the intravenous gin drip. She dries herself slowly, dabbing at the square of thigh sporting her new, impromptu tattoo - 'Grandmother' in a heart.
The dog is nervous. He backs away as she enters the kitchen, humming. He's seen her on the downswing before, but this seems serious - would a sane human carve names on the stilettos before burning the shoes?
The Snark was talking to herself: "Tanya - do I look like a Tanya? Or maybe Sadie: I kinda like Sadie." When the doorbell rings she smiles, her face unused to the broad exercise. "Are you Arnold?" she asks, opening the door.
"How could I refuse that offer you made on the phone, Miss!" Somewhere beneath the pile of zits a crooked-tooth smile haggles for some performance space. He holds out a plastic bag: "I bought you a present."
The Snark's damp brow struggles for a moment, unable to match the voice to the vision. "What is it?"
"It's a dress, Miss. For you. I hope you like gingham . . . "
5. No way in hell, unless it’s the Rock Bottom Café in the back room of a certain NYC literary agency.
You know the one I mean. It’s one of those “if it’s Tuesday, it must be panini night” kinds of places. So much so that on Fridays, Her Snarkness may be blubberin’, but she’s blubberin’ with aplomb, 'cause if it’s Friday, it must be canasta playoff and clam chowder night in the house, and she’s kickin’ everyone else’s little ass.
So much so that on Saturday, she and her brand new tattoo waylay old Arnold up the street, way before he can descend upon the fake address she gave him. She walks him right down where she wants him. There’ll be no pizza on Saturday. Oh, no, Bucky. This boy is her just dessert.
She knows just how to get what she wants. That’s why we love her so.
6. “A little more left and down, please.” The Tat Artist’s ink-filled needle hovered just above the milky plumpness of Miss Snark’s exposed buttock. “Yes. Right there for the dragon’s head, and George will be just above, correct?” Miss Snark drew deeply from the gin pail. She wasn’t about to sanction a careless misstep on her ass.
“Yeah, lady, I get it. But like I said, that’s pretty high up for an Order of the Garter.”
The petite agent harrumphed and settled herself more comfortably.
Hours later, the mini-masterpiece was nearing completion. An inert Miss Snark emitted a delicate snuffle in response to the tinkling bell as the shop door opened. A tall, tanned and very handsome man stood staring down at the blubbery butt, freshly adorned with the colorful, intricate insignia.
“That’s your best George yet,” said the well-known actor, himself a fan of all things "George." “Michelangelo’s got nothing on you, Jim!”
Miss Snark, still prone on the table and more than half-in-the-bag, roused herself briefly to mumble, “Did someone say 'Gin?'”
7. "Listen, Dog, don't go soft now. Hand me the gin."
Yap retrieved the pail. Miss Snark poured the magic liquid on her desk and the shoe boxes next to it.
"What a waste of good alcohol. I'm gonna regret this. But I can't take it anymore. Stupid authors. Stupid publishing business. I'm fed up, I tell you, fed up. If I get one more query, I'm going to crack. No more tears for the Snark, I had enough of them last night. Now get the fire extinguisher."
Yap plunked it at her feet as her desk went up in flames. She waited and pulled the trigger just as the smoke alarm went off.
"That felt really good. Know what I'm gonna do next?" she said as she made her way through the smoke.
Yap cocked his head and coughed.
"Well of course you don't, you're a dog. Hahahahaha!"
Yap covered his head with his paws and hid under the chair. "Well, now it's tattoos. I'm getting a big honking book tattoo on my butt--in gold and red. Underneath it will read "A Million Little Pieces Hell. Take this!" And then I'm meeting a new guy at Ray's Pizza. Don't wait up, Yap," she said as she walked out the door.
Yap shook his head. Humans! One quart of gin and they think they're twenty again.
8. Miss Snark sighed. I never intended to be a great author, she thought, any more than I intended to catch that wretched disease from Evil Editor.
She looked at her date's vehicle in red, white, and black and blaring trumpets sounding every time the stupid little van came to a full stop. She could not imagine what the other guests at the conference would make of it.
"C'mon, Snarkie, it is time for you to shake your booty."
Miss Snark looked at her date, Arnold Patterson, purveyor of German-style pizza. She slid into the passenger seat. To the sound of trumpets blaring the Vorwarts March, they made their way to the agents' dinner. Miss Snark had almost forgotten about her fallen estate, the burned down house, her company folding under the weight of her last four sales being to I-Universe. But when they arrived, she saw something that truly chilled her to the bone: George Clooney, entering the building, and on his arm, Barabara Bauer.
9. “I’m a wreck when it comes to cooking!” Miss Snark flung a spatula onto the floor. It bounced twice and landed next to the rest of the kitchen utensils.
Killer Yapp trotted over to lick the scrambled eggs, sausage, and lima bean mixture, while Miss Snark grabbed the fire extinguisher.
“Empty? Already?” She tossed it onto the pile of used-up extinguishers.
As the blaze consumed her Saturday morning breakfast, she decided to feed it more.
“Here you go, fire! Have Rabbitania. It’s junk anyway. And Dan Lazar’s memoir. Fantasy crap. The Top Ten Writer’s Conferences I Won’t Tell My Snarklings About. Best to keep that secret. Burn, baby, burn. Raising Squirrels in New York. KY isn’t ready for that yet.”
Miss Snark howled. “Oh yeah! And the book I co-authored with EE, The Essentials of Poetic Prose. Snarklings and minions are stupid not to know what that is.” She threw it onto the stove.
Hours passed, the fire died down. Her computer was ruined. Five manuscripts were destroyed. Miss Snark frantically searched for the remaining two.
“Oh thank dog, I found you!” She flipped through Miss Snark Cooks With Gin and NY’s Most Eligible Pizza Delivery Men. “Keepers.”
10. “Is he gone?” Killer Yapp sauntered out of the kitchen, licking pâté from the corner of his mouth.
Miss Snark threw herself facedown on the sofa. “Yes, thank Dog.” She kicked off her stilettos, cheap Blahnik rip-offs. “My ankle is killing me.”
“I told you that wasn’t a good place for a tattoo,” Killer Yapp said. “Not with the shoes you wear.”
“Don’t rub it in.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“It was terrible,” she admitted. “Even worse than you thought.”
Yapp recalled his dire predictions from earlier that evening, and shuddered.
“He only asked me out because he’d heard I was an agent. He made me read his entire manuscript before dinner.”
“Worse. Star Wars fanfic. When I told him I didn’t represent that genre, he pestered me for personal recommendations to ‘any of my little agent friends’ who did!”
“At least Pizza-boy wasn’t too hard on the eyes,” Yapp remarked.
“Yes, but he wasn't the man I truly want,” Miss Snark sighed.
“Clooney,” Killer Yapp said knowingly.
“No . . . ” Miss Snark sobbed. “Evil Editor!”
“Um, Miss Snark?” Killer Yapp backed away from the sofa.
“What?” she snapped.
“That was Evil Editor.”