Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New Beginning 536

“Yeah. It’s like that part of sleeping you don’t recall at all. The part you know you were part of, because the clock moved, but other than that, it is not there and never was.”


“Yeah. I have three and a half months like that to account for. That’s a lot of darkness with nothing to show for it.”

“Gone? Just gone?”

“Just gone. I’m lucky to remember what came before. Some of that is gone too.”

“Maybe you don’t remember the other side the way you don’t remember what went on before? Maybe you just can’t remember what was there?”


Papa Brown seems wholly unsatisfied. His eyes dart down into my divot as if there were answers there. His curiosity frustrates me and I try a different way of explaining it to him.

“Next time you are asleep-- I mean really asleep, not dreaming, but completely unaware of anything, unaware that you are asleep, unaware that you are alive, unaware that you are trying to ask yourself questions-- ask yourself what it is that you are thinking and feeling. Just say to yourself 'Hey, What’s really going on here?' You’ll see what I mean then.”

Papa Brown seems puzzled. He looks blankly at my golf bag and says, "That makes no sense. How can--"

His eyes are suddenly drawn to the head of my 4-iron, but not in time to prevent it from crashing hard into his temple. He falls into a green-side bunker. "Okay," I tell him. "Now's your chance."

Hey, What’s really . . . going on . . . he--

Opening: Scott from Oregon.....Continuation: Evil Editor


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:



“Hey, what’s really going on here?”

“That was fast,” said Papa Brown.
“You're an experimental drug test subject for elbow itch syndrome.
How are your elbows?”

“Just fine. No itching.”

“Good, it's working. How is your stomach?”

“I'm in agony. I haven't gone potty for a week.”

“Hmm. Breathing ok? Headaches? Joint pain?”

“I can sometimes catch my breath again--”


“The afternoon headaches are less tormenting. I can't bend my left leg.”

“As long as the elbows don't itch, right? So, how's the memory problem?”

"What memory problem?”

--Bill H.

Still Papa stares at me with eyes that do not see. I’ll just have to find another way. Then it comes to me.

“Papa!” I yell. “Gone like a freight train. Gone like yesterday. Gone like a soldier in the Civil war – BANG BANG. Gone like a “59 cadillac and all the good things that ain’t never comin’ back.” I look up for any glimmer of understanding, and this time I get it.

He smiles an understanding smile and says, “Hey, I like them boys, very musical. Do you think you could get that on my Ipod for me, son?”


Evil Editor said...

I'm guessing this is an excerpt, and readers will know who's talking to whom, and where they are? It goes a good while without dialogue tags.

Should I know what "Maybe you don’t remember the other side..." means?

I'm not sure why the narrator is trying to explain anything to Papa Brown. Does the narrator have any useful knowledge to impart?

Wes said...

Interesting voice, but the lack of setting and dialogue tags cause some confusion. The first half could be read as one person ruminating or up to seven participants talking. Again, I like your voice.

Wes said...

PS: Great continuation, EE

Anonymous said...

Is this Scott from Oregon's brother?

Evil Editor said...

Oops. Fixed.

Dave F. said...

This dialog is good. It's bare though. Just a skeleton. You can build scenes this way. Write the significant dialog or action and then add the flesh to the bone, to maintain the metaphor.

First, we talk in contractions and write without them. The formality of writing causes that. You have no contractions.
Second, we usually say half of what we are thinking and the other person understands the rest. Maybe more than half, sometimes less - but in casual conversation we almost never say completed thoughts like you have in this excerpt.
Third, we don't say things twice in conversation. This is really hard to not write into conversations and really sometimes hard to believe in life.

Consider that this: “Yeah. It’s like that part of sleeping you don’t recall at all. The part you know you were part of, because the clock moved, but other than that, it is not there and never was.”

Is most likely this: “Yeah. It’s like the sleep you don’t recall. The clock moved, but nothing is there and maybe it never was.” (a blank? a void?)

I think you can drop freaky for some other sentence describing the reaction of one or the other character and then reveal that the speaker has lost 3 1/2 months.

Also, consider starting the conversation with that paragraph. We might not care about the speaker's views on sleep, but the speaker having amnesia is big news.

That single reply "maybe" might be better as a description of Papa Brown's reactions. Remember, the printed conversation doesn't have to contain every spoken word we think they might say. Conversations in novels often are the highlights without the boring bits. The reader fills in the boring bits.

Whirlochre said...

I echo what has been said so far in that, without reference points, this is a little like a jellyfish out of water.

Jellyfish, however, are inherently interesting.

Like all your stuff, this has a quirky edge to it and the final para is a treat, so I'm happy to take this 'as is', presuming it to be mid-somwhere.

fairyhedgehog said...

I wanted to read more of this but I was puzzled by the word "divot" - is that an American euphemism for cleavage?

Evil Editor said...

As far as I know it's a Scottish euphemism for a hunk of turf, or the hole created by the removal of said hunk of turf, usually with an 8-iron.

Scott from Oregon said...

Papa Brown is an old Doors fan and wants to know what's "on the other side".

Walter is an ex-coma patient waiting to become ambulatory. His divot is where his brain fell out and they smooshed it back in.

Walter is trying to convince Papa Brown that there is no "other side", just a place you can't get to because, well... 'you' try it.

benwah said...

A minor thing: You say Papa Brown's eyes "dart down to my divot." But if this is from the main character's POV, then he can't actually see scar on his own head. Therefore the best he can do is assume PB is looking at divot. (This also means that PB wasn't looking MC in the eye; if he were, PB's eyes would dart up.) Unless you've previously referred to the scar where they turned a bone flap as simply "my divot," you might be well served to say "the divot in my skull."

FWIW, a quick scan of your lines:

...Just gone
Just gone

I think you're using too many words and saying less. I agree with Dave's advice.

BuffySquirrel said...

It's scary how quickly I lose interest these days.

wendy said...

"His divot is where his brain fell out and they smooshed it back in."

Is this another part of the "smooshed" brain story we looked at before?

Anyway, I too enjoyed the quirky nature of this piece. I did find the dialogue difficult to follow, though.

Great continuation EE!
Good luck, sounds interesting.

writtenwyrdd said...

This is well written but doesn't grab me like an opening should. If it's a chapter heading or other excerpt like EE thought, I like it. If it's an opening, you need a hook, and essentially what we have here is the equivalent of two voices talking in a white box. We need setting, action, and an emotion for an opening. Or at least something that makes us want to read on. This reads a bit like a writing excercise like "give me 200 words of a character trying to describe something amorphous."

McKoala said...

The divot is more the chunk of earth than the dent left behind. Well-mannered golfers stamp the divots back into the holes.

Evil Editor said...

True, but when they fail to do so and another golfer's ball rolls into the same spot, it's always said that the ball is in another player's divot.

Scott from Oregon said...

I looked up divot and McKoala is technically right.

But, in common usage, even in the construction trade, we call any little dip a divot, as in a divot in the concrete...

Evil Editor said...

It wasn't declared that she was wrong, merely that there was another meaning. From


1. (golf) the cavity left when a piece of turf is cut from the ground by the club head in making a stroke; "it was a good drive but the ball ended up in a divot"
2. a piece of turf dug out of a lawn or fairway (by an animals hooves or a golf club)

benwah said...

In the surgical biz, we commonly refer to a chuck missing out of the skull as a divot.

And a big ole nasty skin incision/scar is often caled a shark bite.

Not officially, of course.

Dave F. said...

Maybe we should ask Paris Hilton is she has an opinion on the word "divot." Huh?

Scott from Oregon said...

My dictionary cheated me...

BYW, I didn't "get" your continuation because the golf thing threw me.

And then...

there was a light at the end of a dark tunnel, and it all made perfect sense.

Anonymous said...

I like it. I agree that the scene could stand a trim, shortening some of the dialog. I like the pace and flavor of the dialog, but I'd like it more if trimmed.

--Bill H.