Monday, August 06, 2007

New Beginning 333


Stan's grandma grimly went about the business of disinfecting the apartment. She pushed strands of hair out of her face and grunted. "What a pigsty, and I don't mean maybe."

Stan sat on the corner of the couch. He had pulled his feet up off the floor because his grandma had to get the broom up under the couch. She swept out yellowing newspaper pages, toys, bits of food, and one or two unidentifiable items.

"Hey, there's my Army tank!" Stan reached down into the pile of trash and retrieved his missing toy.

"Mother of Christ. I do believe that's a dead mouse." She poked something with her broom and glared at Stan's dad. "Jesus, Jackie, come on! I taught you about being clean. You know what can happen if thing's ain't kept clean!"

"What, ma? Come on, what?" Stan's dad was preoccupied. "I got some money on this game, you know?" He sat in his armchair, chain smoking, his foot on the coffee table tapping endlessly.

Stan threw his army tank onto the coffee table and dropped his pants. "Number two, coming through!" He squatted next to the litter box and pushed everything out.

Grandma shooed him away with her broom. "Mother of Mother of Christ. We need TWO litterboxes around here. And I don't mean maybe."

"Will you two keep it down?" Jackie crushed a cigarette on the armchair and reached for another.

"What the hell . . . ?" Stan's grandma pulled a dust-bunny-covered body from behind the couch. "Brother of daughter of Christ," she said. "I think I've found Stan's mom!"

Opening: Steve Gallagher.....Continuation: takoda/Bill Highsmith


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuation:

"I warned you about what dirt breeds when it's left unswept."

"And what's going to happen, Ma? Tell me what! Friggen dirt monsters are going to leap out of the woodwork like that old OUTER LIMITS show?"

"Germs and bugs, diseases like colds. plagues and nasty things like that."

"Does Filthy McNasty rise from the dead? A big black coal monster? Sanjia? The battleship Potemkin? What, Ma, what?"

"I'll show you what!" the old lady screamed, her face distorting, fang growing , hair sprouting from her sagging boobs. In seconds, a hideous half-wolf, half-zombie, half-harpy leaned towards him on his mother's walker.

"This, and if I was any younger, I'd show you what I could do with a nasty-mouthed youngster like you, you, you, you, ungrateful bastard."


writtenwyrdd said...

OMG that continuation is pure nasty! But funny.

Author, this beginning definitely got me curious, and I got a great feeling for granny's colorful language as well as something about Stan's family housekeeping. Not sure that knowledge is leading us anywhere important, though, if the focus is on Stan. (Because you call the father "Stan's dad" I assume Stan is going to be the main character here.)

Anyhow, this is bordering on parody already so you might look at the following bits and tone the housekeeping details if they are just used to establish mood or the setting/situation. This opening lends itself to some really, um, ripe parody. It's only 150 words, though, so the usual codicils apply. I'd have to read more to really form an opinion about this being over the top.

I liked it. Would have read on.

Robin S. said...

I like it, and woud read on.

The only word I'd change is to take out the "had" in "He had pulled his feet up"...

You did a good job, in my opinion, of making us see these characters, purely from their use of speech, and their actions.

I'd be interested to know in what direction this story goes - whch is why I'd keep reading.

The continuation was a scream. Soooo, takoda, you and this Bill Highsmith guy have a writing thing going on, do you? Hmmmm.

Bernita said...

Lines like "She... grunted. "What a pigsty," definitly imply parody.

jjdebenedictis said...

This does a very good job of painting a scene; I feel like I've got a grip on all the characters' personalities.

A person could argue the characters are stereotypical, but I would say archetypal - I found them recognizable and funny.

However, there's nothing to draw me into the story. No one has a problem to solve except Grandma, and she appears to be solving it. There's no real tension and no reason for the reader to care about the characters.

Stephen J. Gallagher said...

Thanks for the inputs, everyone (and of course to Evil for posting this for comments). It's tough to show much of the narrative arc and direction in 150 words but I think takoda's parody (which I thought was effing excellent, btw) definitely highlights some areas where I might want to take some heavy-grade sandpaper to some of the more, hemm, florid turns of the phrase. :-0

Steve Gallagher

Dave Fragments said...

Blogger must have eaten my earlier comment. Bad Blogger, Bad Blogger! finger wag, finger wag

The essence was why don't you say "Stan grabbed his toy from the trash" instead of: "Stan reached down into the pile of trash and retrieved his missing toy"

And I also argued against using the word "unidentifiable" because it's not colorful.

And when you say, "She poked something with her broom" I thought "She poked the dried carcass with her broom" would add more color.

writtenwyrdd said...

In my experience, the more clever I think a turn of phrase is, the more sandpaper is required. Unfair, isn't it?

McKoala said...

For some reason I thought Stan was an adult. Perhaps a POV thing - I read this as third person close, but the language didn't seem like that of a small boy.

The combination of Takoda and Bill gives birth to...hilarity.

Nancy Beck said...

Bwahaha! That continuation was BRILLIANT!

This is a pretty good beginning; granny had me chuckling. I'd maybe trim some of the housekeeping stuff to move the story along.

I'd read on to see where this was going.


Anonymous said...

This opening is very vivid, but it left me feeling like the author is going to use a bunch of cheap tricks to get emotional effect. Like I'm being manipulated into feeling sorry for poor little Stan because he lives in squalor, he's presumably motherless, and his father is a racetrack junkie. I mean, okay, that's not good, but maybe if you could show me something about Stan instead of just telling me how bad things are?