Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Beginning 441

I fell down the stairs again. No idea how long I lay at the bottom, but when I finally came to, the steps looked just the same as they did on the way down. That's the trouble with falling: you can't see which way is up. Or is it the other way round?

For too many precious seconds, I'm some doddery old tart flung pell-mell from beyond-her-years mobility to beyond-her-wits paralysis, thanks to a pair of flowery slippers, or a scientist whapped too hard on the head by his own metaphysical ultra-ballistic kumquat.

Or maybe I'm just me.

When you come to from somewhere you don't recognize, 'being me' will do. So you take it, along with whatever else you find.

I figure I'm on top of the booze for the moment. I fall down seven times, see double, and get up fourteen, or fifteen at a push. That's what being a hero is all about. Say I.

So where's my fucking costume? And why all the blood?

"Hey, could someone get another towel and some water for Mrs. Kapersky? And hose off the stairmaster."

"Again? You know, Ted, it occurs to me that a combination gym/bar wasn't such a hot idea after all."

Openining: Whirlochre.....Continuation: Anonymous


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuation:

"Just lie still, ma'am,we'll get you out of here."

I looked up but got confused again. That's the trouble with lying on the ground looking up, you get distracted by people's nostril hair. So I started singing the Chumbawumba song. You know the one.. "I fall down, but I get up again..."

I knew they were talking about me. Because I'm me. I think. And everyone wants to talk about me. I know they do.

"It's a shame this happened right outside the courthouse," one of them says.

"Really? You feel sorry for her?" asked the other.

"Yeah. She used to be hot, but now..."

They bundle me on to a stretcher.

"So, you think this'll end her career?"

"' Fraid so. Hey, get that camera outta my face, moron."

The ambulance doors close with a whump. It's just me and them and the Chumbawumba song. They look at me and shake their heads.

"Jeez, you really did it this time, Britney."


Sarah Laurenson said...

I like this, but I'm having problems with some of the sentences.

For too many precious seconds, I'm some doddery old tart flung pell-mell from beyond-her-years mobility to beyond-her-wits paralysis, thanks to a pair of flowery slippers, or a scientist whapped too hard on the head by his own metaphysical ultra-ballistic kumquat.

The 'or' doesn't signify what you are splitting here and it sounds like it was the slippers or the scientist. I know the comma should do it, but it doesn't for me. I suggest 2 different sentences or a semi-colon.

When you come to from somewhere you don't recognize...

This one sounds awkward to me.

PJD said...

You totally lost me when the kumquat met the scientist. Oh, wait... I'm starting to get it. You're either a doddery old tart, or you're a whapped scientist. Ah. The first time I read it, I thought you definitely were the doddery tart, and that it was either the slippers or the scientist that flung you down the stairs.

I thought this was sort of fun, but too much work to make out if it goes the whole length of a book. And at the end, because I'd mis-parsed the kumquat sentence, I was wondering why some doddery old tart was calling herself a hero and looking for her costume.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Sigh. That's the second contin of mine that didn't even win Unchosen status. But Anon and Tullia's were better anyway, so it's OK. Really, it is.

Besides, my Blogger-eaten (or maybe EE-tossed) contin played off the fact I thought s/he was indeed a doddery old tart. I misread that sentence, too, although I thoroughly enjoyed the kumquat.

I like the way pjd describes the reading experience here (and wish I'd posted it before he did): I thought this was sort of fun, but too much work to make out if it goes the whole length of a book.

As it was, I had to read it a couple of times, and apparently I still didn't get the facts right. But it's got good bones and a good voice. (Oh my, sounds like I'm describing a singing skeleton, doesn't it?)

Evil Editor said...

I have no memory of, nor can I find evidence of, any other continuations.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

I think it's a Blogger problem. I submitted something about the Church Lady / Chris brand switcharoo in the Branding post earlier today and it never showed up either.

This is the contin I sent. But it wouldn't have made the cut anyway. It's lame-o compared to the others:

Wait. Someone bring the house lights up, will you? I have one more curtain call to make.

Or maybe it's one more flight of stairs to climb. Hard to remember with my kumquat-squashed head and the lights all dim. Am I still standing? Or am I falling again?

Doesn't matter. I'm me. A doubled-up pretzel or a hero sandwich. With slippery slippers to thank. If those Mother-fuckers against Drunk Dancing could see me now: statistic number four thousand fifty-nine. Falling off the stairway to heaven.

So now I've fallen and can't get up. Someone call Life Alert ... and bring a mop for all this blood.

talpianna said...

Oh, sure, EE--and you did not have sex with that doddery old tart, right?

Robin S. said...

You know, EE, you sounded sorta like Nixon just now. And it's actually kind of scary.

Anonymous said...

I was completely lost, even after a second and third reading. I thought maybe it was just me, and was wondering if my brain had burnt up some vital synapses. Needless to say, I was relieved to see I'm not the only one. I agree with Phoenix, it has some good bones, but it needs restructuring.

Dave Fragments said...

I don't understand this. It's like describing three halves coming from one whole.

And in my experience when drunks crash down a flight of stairs, they don't get up. they kinda pass out and soil themselves.

Xenith said...

Blogger doesn't like you either Phoenix :(

This sounded like one of those time-travel stories where the MC ends up in different situations.

Then it sounded like a self-indulgent alcholic steam-of-conciousness (which I can't spell) narrative.

I think it's a bit hard to comment on, unless I have a better idea of what the intention is. A problem with it being out of context, of course.

Anonymous said...

On the whole, I'm intrigued and would like to read on. There's enough here to like. It's let down only by a couple of awkward constructs.

The repetition of "down" in the first paragraph doesn't work for me. I feel I'm wanting the steps looked just the same as they did on the way down to be contrasting with something (i.e. "up"); but everything's down here. Maybe just starting "I fell again." would fix it?

As you've heard, the punctuation is a little off in the second paragraph: either you don't need the comma after "paralysis" or, as Sarah suggested, use a semi-colon emphasis the break in ideas.

I'm afraid I'm nowhere near smart enough to get what "a scientist whapped too hard on the head by his own metaphysical ultra-ballistic kumquat" is trying to say.

When you come to from somewhere you don't recognize is another of those phrases that reads just fine once you know how you're supposed to read it, and so the author is blind to it. I can read it fine now because I've figured out "come to" is a unit. First time through, I'm reading "to" as a normal preposition and expecting a location to follow; instead it's another preposition and "ouch".

Oh, it's easy to nit-pick when focused in on just 150 words. Overall, though, I found this interesting and likeable and I would certainly give it more time.

Whirlochre said...

Many, many thanks for the comments.

This was a first draft and submitted to be tested as such and though I might have had the wit on later re-readings to switch that confusing comma to a semicolon, I admit the 'came to' would almost certainly have bypassed the censor. It sounds OK when I read it, but, yes, unless you know it's an idiom comprised of two parts, it's unnecessarily confusing beyond the justifiable bounds of getting the reader to do a little work.

Xenith's observation about the self-indulgent alcoholic steam-of-conciousness narrative was, of course, spot on - more so in respect of the author than the character in the text.

I'll submit something more polished next time so you can wield your bestest weapons. As Noel Coward is rumoured to have cried backstage during a particularly spectacular all-cast thrashing, 'be ruthless, my darlings! Be ruthless!'

I'll venture my own analyses in similar good heart.

Robin S. said...

Hi whirlochre,

I like much of your work - as others mentioned, I thought as I read that I was listening to a whiny old lady, and, since I don't like whiny old ladies, not one little bit, I wasn't loving that, (from a personal prejudice perspective).

I think most of the reframing needed (at least it's needed for me) can be fixed if there's a sentence or so at the beginning of the second paragraph, telling us, by innuendo if nothing else, who the narrator 'is'.

I like the stream of consciousness approach. Fortunately or unfortunately, I seem to have known more than my share of drunks. Some of them were extremely bright and clever. I liked listening to them spiel off their quasi-self-deprecatory bullshit. They were entertaining, (unless they actually entered my life, of course. Then they were pains in the ass).

That's a long way to say I think your narrator could be engaging, with a slight rewrite.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Blogger doesn't like you either Phoenix :(

Doesn't like me either? So does that mean you don't like me, Xenith? That nobody likes me?

I feel like the anti-Sally Field. I'll just be off now to clutch my no-prize and wail, "You don't like me. You really, really don't like me."

none said...

Oh dear, who told Phoenix the painful truth? Bad Australian!

Xenith said...

Why am I always the last person to find out I don't like someone? :\

McKoala said...

This was confusing, but very cool. I'd read on.

Bernita said...

I liked it.