Monday, January 03, 2011

New Beginning 819

The music was too loud, the other women were too rowdy, and the young men waiting tables were not wearing enough clothes. Actually, other than a flimsy little pouch held on with elastic strings, they weren’t wearing any clothes. The bulging maleness those skimpy holsters contained bobbed along while the men who sported them navigated serving trays and pitchers of sloshing beer through an obstacle course of tables and butt‑pinching women.

I can’t believe I let Midge talk me into coming here, Catlin chided herself.

She didn’t want to seem an absolute prude to her bolder but younger sister, but everywhere Catlin looked, another overstuffed male crotch would come waggling into view. So, finding few havens for modest eyes, she decided to focus her attention on the room itself, which would have been a curiosity even without the nearly naked men.

Although faded and out-dated, the spacious room almost certainly had once been the lobby of quite a luxurious old hotel. Tall walls reached to a lofty ceiling on three sides, but high on the back wall there was a balconied hallway that once accessed the hotel’s finest suites. Its ornate banisters looked elegant even in their dull disrepair.

Built in 1922, the Grand Merlaine was planned to be the most lavish hotel in the city. Brainchild of business partners Henri Merlain and Cecil Buxworth, no expense was spared. The famed architect Gustav Szarboczy was commissioned to give the hotel a traditional European feel, and the granite was imported from Norway. On the day of it's opening, the Grand Merlaine was declared to be the most impressive erection ever--

"And something for you, Ma'am?"

Catlin was dragged from her historical reverie by a scrotum. Actually, the crotch, uncomfortably at eye level, wasn't talking; the voice came from the too-boyish face floating somewhere above it.

"Wha- Uh?" Catlin stumbled.

"Something to drink, Ma'am?"

"Oh." Catlin flushed and tried to avoid looking at the waiter's pouch. The last thing she needed was to get herself drunk in this place. "Tea," she said. "Just a cup of tea."

"Tea," the waiter repeated. "Sure, we can do that."

Catlin smiled in the general direction of his face.

"We only have bags, though."

"Y'know, forget it. I have to leave, anyway."

Opening: James.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

It was a wasted night because Midge didn't know she was gay --Wilkins MacQueen

As Catlin let her gaze sweep along the banisters that were in dull disrepair, she noticed that some parts of the banister were not as dull as others. Some places, in fact, were downright shiny. Then she saw the reason why.

“Look, Midge! There’s a nearly naked man up there, polishing the banisters.”

Midge did look up, then quickly down. She threw her hand up over her brow, shading her eyes in such a way that made it appear that she was saluting the pitcher of beer sitting on their table.

“Ignore him.”

“Why? He’s doing such a good--”

“It’s Charley the zombie,” Midge interjected. “The guy can never do anything right.”

Catlin turned a questioning look to her younger but bolder sister.

“Remember, I’m younger but bolder than you.”


“So, there was a time I offered to give him head.”


“And I wound up at the emergency room . . . getting stitches!”

“Oh, right.” Catlin looked up, again. “But the banisters look good.”


Evil Editor said...

P3: She focused would be better than she decided to focus. Technically, I would say she focused her attention upwards, rather than on the room, as the lower part of the room would be hard to focus on with all the waiters.

P4: Get rid of "quite." It doesn't alter the meaning of luxurious. The paragraph goes on too long; she wouldn't be thinking these thoughts in her current state of discomfort. I can't see her going any farther than the first sentence. Plus, how would she know the balcony accessed the finest suites when she's not certain it was ever a hotel? If she really did stop to think about it, she might assume a luxurious hotel wouldn't have its finest suites right outside the noisy lobby.

Mainly, I think if you need to describe the room, and you're in Catlin's POV, you need to do it before the waiters make their entrance. Which might make for an amusing opening: the description of the proud old hotel interrupted by the sudden appearance of the naked guys with their skimpy pouches.

Anonymous said...

A bit off-putting, maybe not the best place to start. I'm trying to guess what the genre is. Porn? Murder mystery? Surely not romance.

Dave F. said...

I'm puzzled. I'm guessing that this is intended to be funny but humor only works when there is a contrast between two ideas.

Nudity or near nudity doesn't cut it as funny anymore. Not after a number of nationally televised Summer Olympics (and sports like beach volleyball) have shown more male and female flesh than once thought imaginable outside of museums.

Don't lose the scene, restructure it so that the lost splendor of the hotel mirrors some loss or lack in Caitlin's life. Or portends some loss of innocence she will undergo in the story.

Joe G said...

The bulging maleness? I'm going to incorporate that into my repertoire.

arhooley said...

The false note for me is "I can’t believe I let Midge talk me into coming here, Catlin chided herself." Too pedestrian. It's obvious that Catlin regrets going there. Why not add Midge to the description? There's her sister Midge right across from her, one of the very rowdiest, bobbing her head around to see the very things for which Catlin wants brain bleach.

chelsea said...

I like the idea here but I think a few things could be explained through dialogue: i.e. Caitlin and Midge's relationship and Caitlin's fear of appearing prude. The description of the room is nice but it did take me out of the scene a bit. I agree that there might be another place to put it or another way to work it in.

I would read on :)

fairyhedgehog said...

I was smiling at all the various ways of describing the waiters' clothing when we suddenly got onto banisters and ceilings. I wasn't quite sure where that fitted in.

I have to admit that I'm intrigued and want to know what it's all about. I'm hoping it's sci fi and we're on another world or in the future but I couldn't be sure about it.

Jo-Ann said...

I can relate to Catlin's discomfort, so I found myself chuckling at the opening - and laughing at the continuation.

I second Arhooley's comments about showing rather than telling us about Midge.

I'm guessing this is a chick-lit novel, and Catlin is a divorced stay-at-home-mother who really needs to get out more, and the plot follows her misadvertures as she dates a succession of losers and deviants before finaly discovering a nice fellow, who happens to moonlight as a stripper.

BuffySquirrel said...

I thought this opening did a good job of bringing out Caitlin's character. That said, I'm not sure I would read on, as there's not much indication anything's going to, yanno, happen.

James said...

Dear EE and worthy EE's minions,

Wow! Have I been away that long? Personal matters. I had to scroll down a ways in EE's blog to see that "Midge" had been commented on. Late as I am responding, it is likely that no one will see this, with the possible exception of Ms. V. Even so, I would feel like an asshole if I didn't respond to your generous appraisals.

First of all, thanks--especially to EE--for helping me remind myself that every unnecessary word is wasted on modern readers, whose attention span is comparable to the space on a cell phone's screen. Something I've always noticed about EE's suggestions is that they cut sharply, but accurately. In brief, he obviously knows his shit. If I ever get brave enough to pull something from the trunk, it will be to EE that I send it.

To first anonymous (who is wondering if the genre is porn, murder/mystery, or romance): All of the above.

To Dave F.: I knew a guy who was invited to visit a nudist colony a few decades ago. I'm not making this up. While watching some men and women play beach volley ball, he couldn't keep from laughing. They kicked him out.

To Joe G.: I've heard they prescribe drugs for that these days.

To arhooly: Yes, Catlin is pedestrian. And yes, she wants brain bleach. I take heart in the fact that you noticed.

To chelsea (dear chelsea), who said she would read on:) Of those who really did "read on" when I asked them to look at my early drafts, every one of them were women.

To fairyhedgehog: Sorry, but it's not sci fi. Urban fantasy. Thank you, truly, for expressing curiosity. And thank you for the considerateness of saying to me in a kindly way that the two hundred words you've read isn't telling you where the story is going. Writing short stories must be a bitch.

To Jo-Ann: Damn. The weird thing is, everything you said in your last paragraph touches on some aspect of the story. And you got all that from a couple of hundred words! I am uplifted. Just keep in mind that there could be a zombie.

To BuffySquirrel: I like squirrels, and other small things that live in forests. So does Catlin. A lot.

To the anon whose continuation was chosen: Alright! But I liked the second, unchosen, continuation better.

Thanks all--James