Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New Beginning 148

I fling the paper toward the neighboring house, then sigh in relief after it disappears through two tall bushes. "Thank you,” a male voice calls out. I don't answer, just slam the front door behind me. I try to determine whether there was a hint of sarcasm in my neighbor's voice, but don't care enough to analyze for long. I've never met him, but the fact that he gets the newspaper is enough to put him on my list. I shudder. People like that carry the news with them. It oozes from their pores.

My straw welcome mat swings from my hand into the fireplace. With the ignorant paper boys in the neighborhood, it doesn’t pay to invest in a sturdy one. I strip and toss my clothes and shoes on top of the mat. Then I flick the switch to start the fire, and run upstairs for untainted apparel.

After my shower I go back downstairs and sweep up the fireplace, sealing the ashes in a plastic bag and disposing of it safely in the sanitized trash chute.

I settle down to a cup of tea and a bowl of oatmeal, but I'm constantly distracted by a tiny hair on the floor of the kitchen. I don't want to have to get changed again to clean it up, so I distract myself by writing my neighbor's name on my list. It's high time I did something about him and his dirty habits.

That hair is still bothering me. I have to deal with it. I go back upstairs and change into a fresh suit. I glance at myself in the mirror and am pleased with what I see. No underpants over the trousers for me. After all, I'm a different type of superhero: Obsessive-Compulsive Man!

Opening: Crystal Charee.....Continuation: McKoala


Anonymous said...

This original is really confusing. What do paperboys have to do with the welcome mat? I don't get it.

GutterBall said...

Oh, my God! I am SO going to be Obsessive-Compulsive Woman for Halloween this year! Bwahahah!!

The sad thing is, I know people who are almost this bad about Germs. Yes, I capitalized the word intentionally. They treat Germs like proper nouns. It's more than just carrying around hand sanitizer, I tell ya.

I can see at least two of them running upstairs to scrub and change after handling a filthy, Germ-ridden newspaper that countless other hands have touched.

For some reason, I liked the line about people like the neighbor carrying the news with them and oozing it from their pores. I know people like that, too. Eesh. This is what I get for keeping the records in a mental health facility!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, EE. Anyone who dissects the newspaper from page one to the Classified Ads has to be seriously sick. You don't want to catch what he's got...

ScienceSleuth said...

This is a good attempt at setting the scene. It puts the reader right into the fictional dream. The problem is it suffers from the "opening doors" problem.

(I'm quoting someone, can't remember who, anyway, they say that "too many doors open and close in fiction")

Meaning, this opening is describing every second of the action, which would be fine if the scene were an intense one, but it's not. Skip the "and then I took a shower, and then I ate breakfast" stuff.

Anonymous said...

The news-phobia reminds me of an unsettling story by Theodore Sturgeon, called 'And Now the News'. So I was intrigued.

writtenwyrdd said...

While I liked the beginning and was pulled in immediately into the scene, I didn't like the writing style as much as I could have. There is something about the voice that is too self aware. I suspect that it is the extreme detail you give. (Reference the "opening door" comment by attemptingfiction.)

But the character's OCD is apparent, as well as a certain attitude toward the neighbor. I am not certain what "people like that carry the news with them" means, but it sounds intriguing. Not sure you can keep it there, but it's intriguing. :)

Good stuff.

Dave Fragments said...

I'm sorry to say I read this back on the "openings page" and it made absolutely no sense.

And now, IT still makes no sense to me.

Sorry about that

Anonymous said...

The continuation is funny. The opening is kind of nicely done -- I mean, it does characterie the OCD narrator -- but holds no appeal for me. The only thing that might keep me reading is if I thought the narrator was going to off the news-ooing neighbor in a particularly gory way.

McKoala said...

Yay for Evil Editor's improvement on my idea!

When I first read this I was most disturbed by the misspelling of 'mat' as 'matt' - which seems to have been changed here. Other than that I would have read on to find out where the intriguing start was going, but I'm sorry, that slip really tripped me up.

Anonymous said...

This was very confusing. Is the person OCD then? I'm mildly OCD and this didn't sound like it to me. But what do I know.

Word verification: mmsob. Heheh.

Anonymous said...

The present tense drives me nuts.

braun said...

I'm pretty intrigued. I suspect that the author needs more than 150 words to set the scene. But the "what they hey?" factor here would be enough to make me keep reading.

Crystal Charee said...

M'kay. Now that I'm safe that nobody is keeping up with this thread I can say--excellent continuation, McKoala.

Thanks for all the comments, particularly the ones who would have given the story more of a chance after these first 150 words. I'm taking the "open door" critique to heart. That was excellent advice.

I wasn't necessarily describing a version of OCD, at least not intentionally. Just a character who has trouble being reminded of the uglier side of reality--which is represented by the news in any form.

Anyway, thanks again. Big hugs all around.