Monday, October 08, 2007

New Beginning 381

Austin first met the cat at the end of a long afternoon at the Friday bazaar with his parents.

They had been in Turkey for only five days and already he was bored. It took ten hours by bus to get down south – at night too – and when they arrived at the house early in the morning, the doors were all locked up and the front yard (if you could call it a yard, he thought, all paved and tiled over) was covered in fallen pine cones and needles, and even wooden crates and garbage from the restaurant next door. His Dad was sullen and his Mum was trying to stay cheerful, but it took them forever to get the door unlocked and make up the beds with clean sheets so that they could get a little sleep. His bed smelled damp and mouldy. I could have stayed with X in England and gone to football camp instead.

The bazaar (if you could call it a bazaar, he thought, just a ragtag marketplace of shops and stalls) sold mostly carpets, copper goods, and cheesy souvenirs. Austin sighed, his hopes of snagging a new PlayStation dashed. His Dad was giddy and his Mum was trying to stay sober, but the raki was flowing a little too freely for that.

And that’s when the cat appeared (if you could call it a cat, he thought, six feet tall, with a goofy cartoon face, a yard-high red and white striped hat, and an aura that spoke of pure evil) smelling of fish and raki as it leaned in close and whispered to Austin:

"I do not like this lame bazaar
I think that we should steal a car.
We’ll ditch the ’rents. I know some tricks.
We'll trash some mosques and pick up chicks."

The heck with football camp, thought Austin, as he followed his new friend through the winding lanes.

Opening: Deniz Bevan.....Continuation: Anonymous


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

I could have, you understand, but this is Austin's story and I intend to make his poor bastard jump through every contrived plot complication I can think up. And that's exactly why I added the cat, because there needs to be a hook, and everybody gets softhearted when a domestic animal wanders into the scene.


Austin met the dog the morning that they arrived at the Greece Parthenon.

They had been in Greece for two days and Austin wasn't bored, yet. The cat had gone to its little grave in Turkey and then they took a train for five hour to Athens and another to the coast. The house their faced the beach and the walls were decorated with pictures of ancient Greek warriors and athletes performing various physical feats. Women in white dresses whisked his mother away to a spa and his Dad had gone to the vineyards to press the grapes with the locals. The dog lay at the foot of his bed, smelling of wet dog. I wish I could have stayed with that Turk who wanted to teach me wrestling.

Austin was quickly becoming a bored tourist lurking in bedrooms. He wondered if anyone would miss the dog.


The cat changed everything. With the help of sign language and nine Turkish boys, Austin set up a fine little football camp, even if the ball was a little warm and squishy.


"We could go toe-dipping in the seas," said the cat. "You know, the Black Sea, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, and the Marmara, if you want to count that one . . . it's something to talk about, lie about, you know . . . a girl at every port."

"Who'd believe it," said Austin.

"You could do the Noah's Ark thing--"

"Can't get near it--"

"Or cities and civilizations. Lot's of that here."

"Read about it in a giant folio book. The overly done photographs will make the real thing seem cheap."

"Well, what would you do if you were back home and weren't playing football?"

"I'd be making fun of French football . . . and German football."

"Can't you do that here?"'

Austin's face lit up. "Did you see the World Cup finals last year?"

"See it? I was there."

"Like hell you were, cat. Prove it."

--Bill Highsmith

The only thing in the room that wasn't damp or moldy or ill-tempered was a rather large cat which was sitting on a box and grinning from ear to ear.

The cat happened to be quite proficient in rhyming, and he scolded the complaining boy in such a way:

You could've gone to camp
and avoided all this damp
But here you sit
you stupid shit
you're not a football champ.

So get up off my bed
or your face I'll surely shred
I'm now your pet
I'm glad we met
I wish now to be fed

Austin duly went to the kitchen and opened a box of left-overs from the restaurant next door. He wished now he had finished reading "Alice in Wonderland" so he would know how to deal with the clever cat.

--Church Lady

But no, here I am in Turkey with Dad and Mum and Y, and things just don’t seem to feel right here.

On the morning of the sixth day he grew restless from the boredom, so he went for a walk. He walked toward the back of the restaurant, circling around the stench of the garbage, and that’s where he saw the cat. He couldn’t quite believe his eyes as he watched the cat’s strange movements.

The cat seemed to be circling the stench of the garbage as well. It seemed to be holding its breath as it dove into the garbage bins and jumped back out again, like a boxer jumping back from a punch, but with stringy bits of food in his mouth.

“I can’t quite believe I’ve been reduced to foraging in human garbage to find sustenance,” the cat said, looking up at Austin as he licked his paws and wiped his face clean. “And now, on top of it all, to complete the utter ignominy of being sent here to live among the creatures on this planet, a family of humans has moved in to the place I’d used as headquarters, and I have no soft, warm cushions on which to do my business.”

“Your, uh, business?” the boy asked, wondering why it was that alien creatures in American stories like this one always spoke in dandified British accents.

“Yes, human male child, yes, my business. Do you not understand the use of euphemisms, boy? All right then, all right, I pissed repeatedly, for weeks really, on the human cushions. Happy now?”

On the evening of the sixth day, Austin pulled out his old sleeping bag. On the morning of the seventh day, he woke up, stretched, and was well rested. Maybe this move wasn’t gonna be such a turkey after all.

--Robin S.

Austin rolled over trying to escape the smell, only to find a new smell. Cat butt. The cat was curled up on the other side of his pillow. Austin sat up. The cat blinked up at him and said. “Yes you could have stayed with X in England, but now you’re here with Y in Turkey.”

Austin stared at the cat. “Y?”

The cat yawned. “Ask your parents. I don’t know why you’re here.”


After hearing Austin's story, the cat frowned through his heavy horn-rimmed glasses. "Daddy-o, like that is so uncool, you dig? Football camp? Like, frigid, man." He shivered, despite his black turtle-neck sweater.

Bewildered, Austin gaped wide-eyed, but the cat just stroked his trim goatee.

"Squaresville. Strictly Squaresville. Like, way out, man." The cat shook his head, then turned back to his well-thumbed copy of "Howl."

Austin stood, then went off to find his parents.

--Paul Penna



"The cat. I thought this was about cousin Austin and his silly cat," I reminded the old coot.

"It is."

"Then why are you going on about Turkey? No one in this family has ever been to Turkey. First we hear about Austin and this cat, and then we're in Turkey."

"I ain't said a damned thing about turkey. You must be hungry, or somethin'."

"That's not what I meant by Turkey. I was referring--"

"Y'know what? Forget the story." He stood up and headed out the room mumbling to himself. "Try to educate you kids about Andrew and how he trained that dog, but no, you couldn't listen..."

"Grandpa, it was about Austin and his cat."

"Oh shut ya trap!"


Unknown said...


Evil Editor said...

The last sentence should have "he thought" after "England." And what's with "X"?

Apparently the cat is the hook here, but the scene begins early in the morning, and Austin won't meet the cat until the end of a long afternoon. The longer it takes to tell us what the big deal is about the cat, the less I like the idea of opening with that sentence and continuing with lengthy exposition that has nothing to do with the cat. Maybe Austin should tell the cat about the miserable trip south.

Robin S. said...

fwylmndWow - what a bundle of continuations. Does this win the prize for most tries?

Anon- I really like your winner.

Hi Deniz,

I like your opening. You've handled a lot of information quickly, and it's told in an engaging way. I'm interested in Austin, which, for me, means I like the narration, and you've done a good job of making me feel the way he's feeling.

I wanna know about X, why he or she is called X, and I hope the cat is coming up in the next paragraph or so. I'd read on to find out.

writtenwyrdd said...

Hilarious continuation.

I really liked this beginning, except for that line "I should have stayed with X instead." Perhaps if I could have read on then it would have worked for me.

I am anxiously waiting to find out what the reference to the cat was all about. I hope you deliver shortly! but you give us all sorts of background without spelling it out, which I liked. And you give us a character who seems promising.

My impression was this kid was grade school or junior high.

McKoala said...

Nicely written, but I'm keen to get on to the cat.

Anonymous said...

I liked the voice. I didn't like starting with the cat and then wandering off into something completely unrelated. And the X was distracting. Hopefully all this is resolved in the next paragraph or two.

It does lend itself to cat in the hat and cheshire cat references as is.

Good beginning!

Dave Fragments said...

I hate to be the grump here, but I started to read Octavian Nothing or the Pox Party (whatever that long title was) and it has unknown and faceless people in it just like "X"... I've abaondoned the book as boring.

This is just too much backstory without a payoff. If the next line isn't cat scratch fever and excitement, I'm going to fall asleep.

I feel bad saying that because there is so much story there and it is good. It's great on Austin's boredom, the bickering parents and the crappy room. And then there is "X" for a name, too gimmicky and a cat. . . And worse, a "had" tense of soemthing that happened before the story began and sucks the oxygen out of the room (so to speak). I'm begging for more action.

I would split the paragraph and insert some action into it. There is a natural break between the garbage and his dad.

Anonymous said...

To stress the X issue - it really threw me off. Like you hadn't figured out the name yet and just put the X in so you didn't disrupt your writing flow. I'd use a name. Not sure, though, how it works with the rest of the story, so, this is an opinion based on 150 words . . .

Other than that - I really liked this opening and want to know more about the kid and the cat.

Anonymous said...

It seems these are supposed to be Austin's thoughts but they don't seem to be the thoughts an adolescent or young boy would have. It sounds like the writer is manipulating the character to give us an information dump.

I don't think he would reflect on the length of time they've been in Turkey, the length of the bus ride, his parents' attitudes or how long it took them to unlock the door.

I think his thoughts would be more like "I'm Bored. You call this fun? I could have been at football camp, you know. And that garbage dump - you call that a yard? My bed smells." and so on and so on.

As an aside - I take it Austin is an American child, and not an English one, since you've used the American meaning of the word 'yard'. If he's supposed to be English the use of 'yard' doesn't make much sense.

Chris Eldin said...

Wow, this was a heap of continuations! Glory be to the chosen one! hahah, it was hysterical. :-) They were all funny, but now I can't get the phrase 'cat butt' out of my head!

I agree with the poster who said this felt like a manipulated info-dump. I think I will like the story, but this needs to be tightened up. And get on with the cat!

Good luck,

Deniz Bevan said...

Author here... thanks everyone for the comments! Now I can't get that cat butt thing out my head either :-)
Actually, X was because I hadn't thought of a name for Austin's friend back home yet. Let's call him David :-)
It's true, there is a long gap in the day between that sentence and the time he actually meets the cat, whose name is Kedi. I'll have to look into that during the revision process. As for how he meets Kedi... Austin rescues him from some local hooligans who are in the middle of tying a tin can to his tail...
Thanks for the comments about his voice as well, he's definitely junior high age, and if his language is a little muddled... I will try to fix it, but then, he's got Canadian parents who emmigratd to England, so that's partly an explanation *grin*