Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Beginning 467


HELL TEMPTED ME about every third weekend. So did the bottle. So did a big-breasted neighbor named Magdalene. That much, I admit to.

When it all came crashing down on me was the night my parrot said some things, and I listened, for the first time ever. He said, "You suck". He said, "Help me." He said, "mmmmm," like he had had a belly full.

Magdalene was the alien smell on my hands and genitals. She was the girl-next-door-to-the-brothel, like a discounted address. I didn't like Magdalene. In fact I hated her. In fact she hated me more than I hated her. And this is how we did it. It wasn't pretty and it was never sober, and this was just fine with us. I got the feeling she was heeling every Tom and Harry who had ever hurt her in her past, every time she spurred me on in our frenzied-hateful-love-making. "You", she would accuse me in tremolo. "Youuuuuuuuu." It was always a very long "U". Always longer than I could hold onto the guilt that she had built up inside me. "Youuuuuuuuuuu." She would breath and say it again and often. "Youuuuuuuuuuu!" She was like an alarm going off and a fire starting in a peach pit and a pair of big-nippled accompaniments that jellied on a sternum freckled densely. Her legs would kick me in. "Youuuuuuuuuuuuu."

Then the parrot starting saying it. Youuuuuuuu. Youuuuuuuuuuuuu. I felt no guilt inside me serving parrot en papillote for dinner that night. Youuuuuuuu Suck. I had a belly full.

Magdalene squawked about preparing an avian flambe because she hated the parrot more than she hated me. But I was no fancy chef.

I ate the parrot. That much, I admit to. I nibbled on Magdalene's big breasts, too, but just a little. She was a tough old bird. Would have made a better stew.

I'm going to raise sheep now. Give up on birds. Something tells me I'll be happier with a flock of ewes.


Opening: Scott Simpson.....Continuation: Mignon

28 comments:

Evil Editor said...

After the second paragraph I was expecting to learn what you meant by "it all came crashing down..." Maybe it would be better to switch p.2 and p.3 so that the lengthy p.3doesn't interrupt what seems like the logical sequence.

Dave F. said...

I read this thinking about the Jacques Brel song "Madaleine" when he sings "tell them to go change the sheets on the bed." Either that or "Next" which is a suicidal paean to a "mobile army whore house"...

I like EE's comments. I am loath to suggest changes because of style. But I have problems with the the close placed "In fact" repeat. You may not need those words at all. You also might not need the phrase - "and this was fine with us." That's so obvious that his purpose was to get off and so was hers and it didn't matter who did it. (jeepers, are they cheap and slutty).
This sentence:
"I got the feeling she was heeling every Tom and Harry who had ever hurt her in her past, every time she spurred me on in our frenzied-hateful-love-making."
How about inverting it:
"Every time her heels spurred me on in our frenzied-hateful-love-making, I got the feeling she was riding every Tom, Lick and Harry who had ever hurt her in her past."

(Beat me, kick me, hit me, spank me, bite me, just shut up and respect me in the morning.)

And I would use the elongated word "you" as the accusatory screams of climax .
Her legs would kick me in. "Youuuuuuuuuuuuu." her body would burn and buck and then collapse, kicking me off and laying alone. She was the old joke that preteen boys tell about the cereal that lay in the milk and went bang.

Robin S. said...

Oh, baby, you testosterone loaded, jet-fuel-injected bald hottie, you!

Scott from Oregon said...

EE-Magdalene tosses him from her bed, which is the first domino of the crash that follows. I looked at inverting those two but then you have the crash start before the statement that this is where I started crashing...

dave f.- If you can calm yourself down just a little, you'll realize you've actually read this short story before.

I was going to "send it off", my first foray into "submission", but I left all the printed-out copies on my chair and my wet dog jumped up and lay down on them.

I figured that was a sign that I should e-submit this somewhere, instead...

Evil Editor said...

I looked at inverting those two but then you have the crash start before the statement that this is where I started crashing...

Not sure what you mean. She hasn't tossed him from her bed in this piece...yet. In fact, they aren't even in bed, he's just filling us in on their relationship.

Scott from Oregon said...

The next lines read--

Her legs would kick me in. "Youuuuuuuuuuuuu."
"Meeeeeeeeeeeeeee." I tried moaning.
She opened her eyes and really looked at me this time. The hatred there was unlike any hatred I had ever seen. I had pointed her out to herself and she did not like what she saw.
"You need to get the hell outta my life!"
"Now?"
"Finish. And then go!"




**And so begins the great falling down. If I place his "crashing down" statement anywhere after, it doesn't indicate where it started, which is with profligate sex with a neighbor,one of the declared rationales for the ending...

Evil Editor said...

Your first problem is that the piece reads "She would accuse me, she would breath (breathe), her legs would kick in. It's not the same tense as the lines you've added. You shift from how it used to happen top how it happened this once.

Dave F. said...

"You've actually read this short story...
Now that's intriguing. It's the wrong day for deep thought.

I'm with EE.
"HELL TEMPTED ME about every third week" means that their hot and heavy sex is periodic. So he goes over to satisfy his sexual needs and she enjoys the orgasm as much as he does. But then she kicks him out. This last time, however, he didn't just land out of the bed, something more happened. Something more than a spectacular wet spot on her sheets. Their typical sex for him is just release but for her it's something more.

What is so special about this last time that everything crashes around him? That's more than just his ass hitting the floor. Or her knee finding his nuts (fiddly bits). Or his pathetic injection of DNA.

Is she pregnant? Does he strangle her?

writtenwyrdd said...

I think you pose a teasing question with the first 2 paragraphs, and then you shift focus without answering, like EE says. I like the description of the relationship with the amusingly named Magdalene.

This definitely has a voice of its own. Not something that would pull me in after you get to the "Youuuuuuu" stuff, which is just not working for me, because I'm now imagining a couple of drunks in bed, the woman yodeling.

Anonymous said...

Vagina Dentata

Robin S. said...

Hey Scott,

I really, really enjoyed your first two paragraphs - good stuff.

And I really liked the first sentence of the third paragraph. I mean, come on. What's not to like?

And even though the words spin out of synch after that, as far as the connection goes, for me, you've got a lot of good, good language in the third paragraph, and I think maybe a reordering is in order, that's all, to pull the thought thread together.

I'd also lose the long uuuuuus, to be honest. I think they detract from the strength of your words, and they are strong, and I like them.

Phoenix said...

Hi Scott. I remember this from the COM. Don't be shy. For those interested (Robin, you should definitely read!), the whole story is at:
http://crapometer.blogspot.com/2007/09/ending-revised.html

You had two pretty tough critics -- me and SS@S -- give you high, high marks. And geez, that was back in September. Why are you just now getting around to submitting it???

Goes to show how focus on just the first 150 throws things off a tad. Or maybe the voice drew me in so much I didn't notice the tense changes in the beginning, or didn't care, or just assumed they were part of the voice. Or heck, maybe it's the difference of small font on white versus larger font on pinkish/peachy/paisley.

From the first 150, it's a tricky start, granted, but I know I settled quickly into the story so it didn't matter for me.

Scott from Oregon said...

WW- I thought drunk angry sex with a sloshed woman named Magdalene who sort of yodels was the perfect place to start a story about Islamic fundamentalist extremism...

Dave F. said...

Now I remember that from the crapometer. That was quite some time ago - last year. I tend to lose things over the holidays, especially the winter ones.

I just bought Stephen King's DUMA KEY. One the first page. Wait, let me say that again: ON THE VERY FIRST PAGE, there are only 260 words. Granted you had about 100 less. However, these don't give the true flavor of the story.

I didn't read the "you's" as yodeling. I read them as angry. This opening made me believe that she was angry and not just horny-drunk and easy.
And as I recall (and refresh my memory with reading the short story) it takes a long time to get to the "It all came crashing down on me"...

One thing that I noticed back then but I didn't have the words to put into a cogent comment, was that the climax of the story as foreshadowed (that is: the world crashing down around the narrator) didn't become known until the end. You leave the reader to believe that his drunken wanderings and rantings are all there is to the story for a long time. I had the feeling back then that hurt the story and I will have that feeling now. One difference is that I can see that structure now.

It's a nice story. It's avant garde in many ways. But all the words are not working together, yet.

Remember your response to my "WTF is this?" ::: The attempted "point" for Dave is to simply demonstrate an acute difference between the pious and the profligate-

He only listens to the parrot the night the world explodes, when (as you say) the profligate and profane meet. The aprrot keeps repeating his words "help me"... and his idiocy "you suck"...

McKoala said...

That link linketh not, but I also remember this. I think I liked the style. I think I still do.

Sarah said...

I remembered this, too. Took me a minute to remember where from. And I haven't been to the crapometer in a very long time.

No brain tonight, so I have no useful comments, except I think I liked the full story back then.

Phoenix said...

Sorry, Mckoala. The link-y tags sometimes create a workable link for me, sometimes they don't. It'll look like a working link, but turns out to be some sort of html camouflage. *shrug* So I've stopped trying. Just copy and paste the url into your browser's address field if this doesn't form a linkable link:

http://crapometer.blogspot.com/2007/09/ending-revised.html

Or just go to the crapometer and enter 'parrot' into the search field. That's how I found it :o)

McKoala said...

Aar haar. There was a bit missing at at the end of the link, well not missing, but invisible. I got it to work this time, thank you.

Yup, I liked it.

Haven't been to the Crapometer for ages either.

Scott from Oregon said...

Wow, Pheonix! All that trouble... Thanx!

I did have a question, perhaps a worthy one...

The tense change in this happens at a paragraph break. It goes from backstory (where the character is speaking in general terms) to a specific moment.

The "story" starts right at the shift, which was on purpose (I didn't want to use a time device to shift, other than tense).

Was there an unwritten law broken here? Or perhaps a written one?

Doesn't the paragraph break (even though it also breaks for dialogue), give me that allowance?

Whirlochre said...

I've barely got time to don pants this morning so I'll have to be brief.

I enjoyed this - overall it read like a breeze and I like what you're setting up here.

'When it all came crashing down on me was the night my parrot said some things..'

Not sure about this line - I stumbled over it.

How about ' It all came crashing down on me the night my parrot...'. Not ideal - but it gets rid of the awkward when/was.

Nice continuation too - but enjoy it while you can. When EE starts charging $5 a nipple, we'll all need to clean up our act.

Nipple. Nipple. That's $15 saved already. Maybe I ought to start saving up for a parrot that'll tell me I suck.

That's a good parrot, btw.

writtenwyrdd said...

I reread my comment and realise I should have told you that I also liked the language in the 3rd paragraph, that there is a lot of good stuff there. The yodeling youuuuu just didn't work for me, is all!

Robin S. said...

Hi Scott,

I didn't realize there'd been a
paragraph break.

Are you talking about an axtra space to denote time shift/sibject shift kind of break?

If so, I'd say that would make a difference.

I realize you asked phoenix - I'm just saying...

Evil Editor said...

The paragraph break wasn't included in your comment (4:51). It does allow a tense change, but I don't see why paragraph 2 can't come right before or right after the paragraph break. (You might have to reword it a bit.) That wouldn't put it after the crash begins.

Dave F. said...

I have a suggestion for you to think about.
Instead of "When it all came crashing down on me was the night my parrot said some things and I listened, for the first time ever. He said, "You suck". He said, "Help me." He said, "mmmmm," like he had had a belly full."
Why not just one sentence:
The world exploded on me the night my parrot repeated "Help me. You suck. Help me. You suck."

And then break that long third paragraph with the sentence: You," she would accuse me...

Now you have the opening lines about "Hell tempted me."
The single line about exploding that foreshadows the terrorist bomb. It's going to stand out and hint at something more sinister than drunken debauchery.
A paragraph about Magdalene's alien smell (eye roll).
Then the yodeling love making.
And that puts the reader solidly into your story.

Phoenix said...

Why not just one sentence:
The world exploded on me the night my parrot repeated "Help me. You suck. Help me. You suck."


Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it's often the death of literary fiction. For those who love language and rhythm and voice, bare bones writing just doesn't always cut it. So many nuances missed, so much beauty left behind.

Now excuse me while I go slash about 30% of the words out of this document I'm editing for work. Literary fiction it ain't!

Dave F. said...

Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it's often the death of literary fiction. For those who love language and rhythm and voice, bare bones writing just doesn't always cut it. So many nuances missed, so much beauty left behind.

Yes, Phoenix, I know. I fall in love with my own words just like everyone else. Not only that, I hate to cut those words too. But I think that this in one place where saying exactly what is meant in between all of the extravagance of Scott's style will make the story better. I think the singularity of the one sentence will tell the reader that there is more to the story than simple drunken debauchery and a talkative parrot.

Scott from Oregon said...

hey dave...

You know I always assumed "crashed down on me" had enough double meaning to carry all the way to the explosion.

I started thinking about other possibles "blew up around me"...
"came down on top of me..."

I often think after awhile, your words get seared into brain grooves and are then hard to deviate from. It's like when people change the words to your favorite songs. Even though they may have improved upon the original, you get irritated nonetheless...

The word pattern becomes intractable...

Dave F. said...

Strange that mere words can do that ...