Wednesday, February 06, 2008

New Beginning 445

Using the bed to steady himself, the bandy-legged soldier stepped from his duds, then leaned out the top of the hog pen and looked left and right again. Lila noticed his hands shook as he fumbled the buttons of his shirt. Somewhere in age between grass and hay, he seemed fresh enough to be embarrassed of what he had to offer. She hoped.

The less war he’d fought, the less he’d want to vent his frustration on her body. But plenty of boys had fought in the war and couldn’t find the line between sex and combat. She’d screwed both sides: the Union boys who came to the fort to fight Indians and the Confederate prisoners who joined that fight rather than kill their own. North, South; made no difference when it came to sympathy for her.

Finally. He stood naked before her on the dirt floor that had had its beginning in manure. It didn’t smell so; it just smelled dry. The good think about scorching heat was how quickly it rendered rot to dust.

Lila watched the trembling boy with amusement for a few moments before approaching him. "Hello, soldier," she said. "A little nervous?"

"I guess so, ma'am. Ain't been with a woman since before the war."

"Long time." She took his hand. "North or South?"

He cleared his throat and stared at the dirt on the ground. "Gee, ma'am . . . I was just hoping for straight missionary-style, first. But we can try that kinky stuff later on."


Opening: Kristen F. .....Continuation: Anonymous

36 comments:

Dave F. said...

Strange but, this is romantic. Like "Cold Mountain" with sex (and a plot). Considering that they are in a converted pig sty or hog pen with a floor that once was nothing but pig manure a few months before. It's got some heat.

Around that time, the euphemism for penis was "fleshy pole." And men slept together and commented on sleeping together in letters using those words. They weren't what we consider gay. Gaydom is a modern social construction.

Give him some nice attributes - strong arms, hairy chest, flat stomach, a nice moustache, curly hair. Something like that.

Now I have a problem with the construction of a couple of the sentences.
These two sentences belong to the soldier: The less war he’d fought, the less he’d want to vent his frustration on her body. But plenty of boys had fought in the war and couldn’t find the line between sex and combat.
This is his POV.

But these lines belong to the woman: She’d screwed both sides: the Union boys who came to the fort to fight Indians and the Confederate prisoners who joined that fight rather than kill their own. North, South; made no difference when it came to sympathy for her.
This is her POV. So they can't be that close.

You need a sentence about his attitude toward sex being gentle and not savage right after those first two lines and then you need a paragraph break when you return to her POV.

If they don't have hot, screaming sex with joint orgasms worthy of Meg Ryan, I'm going to be disappointed.

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:


“How old are you?” Lila asked.

He bent and scooped up a handful of dirt, the same dirt that used to be manure, but, technically, even before that, it was in the digestive tract of a cow. The dry smelling dirt sifted through his thin fingers. “I’m older than this here dirt.”

Her brow furrowed. “Are you including the time that there dirt spent as manure…”

“Older,” he interrupted. “I’m includin’ way back to when it was hay. Before the cow even ate it, digested it, pooped it out.”

--Anon.


The boy looked around suspiciously as she crooked her finger, lay back in the straw.

"Wait one," he said, eyeballing the enclosure. "Where's the pigs? You invite a body to the 'see' the pigs, he expects pork, none of your sloppy seconds!"

She rolled her eyes. Not another one. You could take the boy out of the farm, but you couldn't take the farm out of the boy.

--Writtenwyrdd

Evil Editor said...

It all seems to me to be in her POV. She's generalizing from her experience.

I wonder if she would refer to men as either Union or Confederate, or whether the common terms were yanks and rebs, northerners and southerners?

I like it--except for that glaring typo in the last sentence.

BuffySquirrel said...

If she's had so many customers, why is she describing this one in so much detail?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps because there's something significant about this one that we haven't, like, seen yet?

Robin S. said...

Kristen-

This is really, really good. Really good. I'd read more.

Where I come from, we said Union and Confederate. (Although sometimes some hill people might have mentioned the Union guys were assholes or something like that - but not all that loud, as my state was a border deal. As my family was on the Union side and dug in deep in the southern part of the state, almost to Tennessee, we kept our mouths shut. that's what I was told, anyway. That and the American Civil War was not held last week. Oh, yeah, and the South lost. But their uniforms kicked butt. So at least they have that to hold onto. But I digress.)

Anonymous is on a tear, by the way.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

I didn't have an issue with the POV either. I heard it from hers, not his. She could be going off of past experience with other soldiers, or a conversation they'd already had, but the POV was okay with me. I agree with Dave that it has that COLD MOUNTAIN air to it.

I'd read more.

writtenwyrdd said...

The pig pen distracted me because, despite how you clearly tell us there is no longer a smell, that's all I could think about: Pig shit. Hence, my continuation.

I didn't find this romantic, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be in a paragraph or two. It was nicely done and I would have read a bit further on.

McKoala said...

Fascinating situation, nicely sketched.

I assumed it was all her pov too. 'duds' jumped out at me; it's a bit of a jokey word to me. 'It didn't smell so' was a little awkward, and made me think of star trek - 'make it so'!

Hilarious continuation!

Wonderwood said...

I read it as all her POV, also. The first sentence confused me and wasn't cleared up until the third paragraph, and almost as an afterthought, there. Maybe it's just me, no one else has commented on the fact that getting out of bed in a hog pen seems incongruous.

Nice voice, and I think it could be improved with some restructuring. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hilarious continuation!

Some pretty nice editing by EE there. Took a half-baked idea and made a souffle. He should share the credit.

writtenwyrdd said...

Yes, to me this was clearly all in the woman's pov. I think any confusion can be fixed with minor tweaking.

Phoenix said...

I really liked this overall.

I think "duds" and "out the top" seem a little inconsistent with more sophisticated language choices such as "vent his frustration."

And I was trying to figure out what a bed is doing in a hog pen, and why later it's a "dirt floor." My first reaction on seeing "hog pen," was that it was a fenced area outside, especially in that era. Of course a hog pen can be in a barn or shed, but that's not the first impression I had, and I had to work a bit to figure out the setting. Just saying.

I saw it all as being from her POV, too.

Would love to see your query for this!

Whirlochre said...

I'm with Dave on this one that a couple of the sentence constructions are a bit awkward.

"Somewhere in age," "embarrassed of" and "the dirt floor that had had its beginning in manure" all
hold up the unfolding narrative.

Where this is good is the way it conjures up a sense of place: a plush boudoir of perfume-drizzled
lurve, this ain't. You know they're going to grunt real good - if only to outdo the hog voyeurs.

I probably wouldn't read much further than this opening paragraph, but only because the American Civil War holds little interest for me. It was fought for a nobler reason than its English
counterpart (Who Doesn't Sit At The Bottom vs Who Sits At The Top) - but let down by the absence of
metal headgear.

As for tales of gay cowboys - I'm more than happy to leave them dangling by the infinite
cliffhangers of their own stirrups. When Yul Brynner led those half dozen guys through the
sub-Hollywood pressed shirt dust, he did it out of love for the triumph of good over evil - not
because he was hungry for cock.

BuffySquirrel said...

If there is something significant about this particular customer, surely that would be mentioned first? Or at least early. The way it is now, it reads as if the narrative hasn't fully got into the mindset of the viewpoint character.

Getting out of bed in the hog pen did throw me, but I assumed there was a good reason for that.

As for romantic...sorry, I don't find someone buying a fuck romantic.

Anonymous said...

Every sentence in paragraph 2 contains a "had", although you shortened some hads to 'd contractions. Then paragraph 3 begins with the awkward double had. Miss Snark advised that elimination of had will improve your prose. While each use here is ok, each use can be cut or replaced with something more succinct and/or informative. For example:

Using the bed to steady himself, the bandy-legged soldier stepped from his duds, then leaned out the top of the hog pen and looked left and right again. Lila noticed his hands shook as he fumbled the buttons of his shirt. Somewhere in age between grass and hay, he seemed fresh enough to be embarrassed of what he could offer. She hoped.

The less war he ever fought, the less frustration he would vent on her body. Plenty of boys fought in the war and couldn’t find the line between sex and combat. She screwed both sides: the Union boys who came to the fort to fight Indians and the Confederate prisoners who joined that fight rather than kill their own. North, South; made no difference when it came to sympathy for her.

Finally. He stood naked before her on the dirt floor that originated as manure. It didn’t smell so; it just smelled dry. Scorching heat quickly rendered rot to dust.

mb said...

I agree it's in the woman's POV, but I can understand why Dave got confused. That sentence -- "the less war he'd fought, etc." -- is just hard to parse. Maybe go at it from a different angle -- "She wondered how much combat he'd seen. If he was fairly new at fighting, maybe he wouldn't need to vent so much frustration on her body." (That's the vaguest of ideas, not intended as a polished rewrite)
I did find the situation intriguing and wanted to know if this guy was going to be different somehow.

Robin S. said...

Sorry anon 7:59. For me, this prose is too cleaned up. Sucked the soul right out of the author's tone and style - makes it sound like anyone else, or everyone else really, could've written it.

I agree some "hads" suck - because sometimes some writing simply sucks, or because the writer may not see the wall he or she is creating with the 'hads'. But some do see it- and use it to their advantage.

iago said...

Right. Not only does it remove the voice, it changes the meaning.

"She screwed both sides" just doesn't have the same meaning as "she'd screwed both sides".

If there is a problem, it's not the "hads"...

I quite liked this and I would give it a chance to show me what's significant about this encounter.

It does feel a little like a chapter opening rather than a novel opening. Perhaps a little spark of something could be added just to hook more. The first sentence feels just a little bit flat.

ChristineEldin said...

Nobody's commented on 'fleshy pole?'
;-)

I like the voice, but I felt the transition from the first paragraph to the second paragraph was too abrupt. I wanted more verbal foreplay, so to speak.

I guess because the first para. gives specific details, like the fumbling of his hands, and the second jumps to more general description. I'd like to keep the second paragraph as intimate as the first and third. The second paragraph sounds like it would be better placed after they had sex.

Good luck!

BuffySquirrel said...

What's to say about "fleshy pole"? Now "fleshy twig", that would display a degree of modesty worth discussing!

Wes said...

I've never run across fleshy pole (ouch) before, but a common term in the comtempory literature was "pizzle".

Kristen F. said...

So many helpful suggestions! Thank you to all who commented.

This was not originally my opening scene, but I'm toying with the idea of switching it there.

Hog pens were common near soldier's forts during the 1870's. When the actual hogs failed economically, they were replaced by prostitutes. The pens were generally walled on all four sides, with a celing. To us, they would appear to be a stable. The women lived and worked in them and were referred to as "sows." There was no romance in this!

Robin S. said...

Wes,

Weirdly, the word pizzle made me think of some kind of pizza sauce, dribbled, you know, on pizza.

I don't think I'll ever dip or drizzle anything on a pizza slice ever again.

calendula said...

I agree with many--this is gorgeous, and fascinating. Usually the new beginnings are too short to capture my attention, but this one did. I'd love to read more. Good work, Kristen!

Wes said...

Now, Robin, don't make any promises you can't keep.

Wes said...

Kristen,

Thanks for the background on the hog pens. I've not heard of them before, but I don't doubt your statement. Your opening certainly had the desired effect on me. I found it neither sexy, erotic, nor romantic. Just what you wanted.

As you no doubt know, old-time brothels had cribs, tiny, walled-off rooms just large enough for a couple to do the horizontal.

You also no doubt know about "galvanized Yankees", Confederate soldiers who were given the choice of staying in POW camps or joining the Union army to fight Indians. They were called galvinized because zinc in galvinazation covered the underlying metal with a different color, but the original metal retained its properties.....i.e. rebels.

Whirlochre said...

Mention of fleshy poles always reminds me of the night I spent chained to a radiator in a Warsaw brothel...

Anonymous said...

Mention of fleshy poles always reminds me of the night I spent chained to a radiator in a Warsaw brothel...

That's nice, dear.

More tea?

talpianna said...

Wrong era, Wes. From the Online Etymological Dictionary: pizzle
"penis of a bull used as a flogging instrument," 1523, from L.Ger. pesel or Flem. pezel, dim. of root of Du. pees "sinew," from O.L.G. root *pisa.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where Whirlochre sees gay cowboys in this.

Yul didn't ride out for pussy, either.

As for the opening, I liked the way it set a mood.

Dave F. said...

I looked on the internet for the source of "fleshy poles" as a euphemism. It isn't ion the internet but it is in C.A. Tripp's notoriously outrageous book that Abe Lincoln was "gay"...
I don't believe the premise of Tripps' book but it has correspondence between men in the middle 1800's. That correspondence describes men sleeping together or sharing clothing or other such things. In one of those letters is a sentence about enjoying your "Fleshy pole" which is a reference to frottage or femoral intercourse.
One of Lincoln's observers says "he had the most perfect thighs I ever saw on a man." Nowadays that would mean sexual attraction, but back then, I doubt that carried a similar meaning.
Like I said, I think Tripp has it all wrong, but for our discussion, remember that Ishmael in Moby Dick shares a bed with the QueeQueeq and eventually they "marry" which in the social world of whale hunters means become best friends and not sex partners.

So it is entirely possible for the character in this book to refer to the soldiers "fleshy pole" as that and not as the more vulgar dick or cock or prick.

Wes said...

Sorry, Talpianna, this poor country boy doesn't know what half of your post means. I gather the word was used in 1523. But don't we have some rich Anglo Saxon words still in use today? This is particularly true in parts of Appalachia where remnants of Elizabethan English are still spoken. However, thanks for the info. I'll try to work "penis of a bull used as a flogging instrument" into my book. That is unless EE beats me to it.

Robin S. said...

Wes,

You just made me laugh my ass off.
I freakin' love your attitude.
And pizzle is my new favorite word now, on principle if for no other reason!

Anon 9:50 and 8:26, good ones.

Coming back and reading the later comment arrivals is so, so much fun. And rewarding.

Phoenix said...

Bull penis canes are quite a popular accessory even today. I've seen several. Just saying.

Wes said...

Phoenix,

Thank you for the information about bull penis canes. I was not aware of them. But there are many subtleties of Texas fashion I'm not familiar with. Since we are in Lent, it's not too soon to plan for the Easter parade. Wouldn't we make a handsome couple stolling down the boulevard with my penis cane and your armadillo purse, anatomically correct, of course?