Monday, February 04, 2008

New Beginning 443

"I've never seen cement this white and fine, Mister Paul," Jeremiah said as he dumped a bag of Molding Cement into the mixer. Dust covered his bare torso, outlined his muscles, clung to his golden hair. A cool breeze blew in off the water.

"It's bleached volcanic rock." Paul's voice buzzed through the paper dust mask.

"This is Eden, good surf, fruit trees, and that sunrise." Isaiah watered the mix and rotated the mixer.

"Kilauea rumbled last night," Jeremiah said. He had grabbed Isaiah like a scared little boy when the ground shook.

"Pele speaks," Paul told him. "It's her celebration tonight. I promised two statues; that's why I flew you here." Isaiah pulled the handle with both hands; sweat ran down his broad back.

"The stewardess said that Pele gets hungry for pork chops. She told us of a man driving home one night from a pig roast who felt the presence of a woman in his car. He almost wrecked the car but nothing was there. When he got home, the leftover pork chops were gone." Jeremiah giggled.

"Pork chops won't satisfy our goddess tonight," Paul said.

"Right, the statues." Chiseled muscles stood out in bold relief as Jeremiah ripped open another bag of cement. Sinews thickened across Isaiah's back as he forced his handle to turn against the added weight. "What are you making? Dogs? Eagles?"

Paul chuckled. "I have something a little more ambitious in mind." He eyed the two young men. Sweat seeped into the thick layer of dust that coated their flesh. Already the quick-dry mortar had begun to harden across their sculpted, Rodin-like bodies. "Surely you don't think I flew you 3000 miles just to mix cement, do you?"

Opening: Dave.....Continuation: Phoenix


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

"Pele will feast tonight," Paul said. "The offerings at Kilauea will satisfy her."

Jeremiah inspected the cement mix. "It's ready, Mister Paul."

"OK." Paul wiped sweat from his forehead. "Pour the cement into these forms." He pointed at two small, wood-lined holes in the ground. "Isaiah -- get the pork chops."

"Yes, sir." Isaiah straightened his back and raised his voice. "Pedro! Homero! Over here, now!"


"Did you say her," said Jeremiah?

"Of course," said Paul. "Why wouldn't the goddess of the volcano be her?"

"We have a problem, then. I don't do girl statues. I couldn't touch her...various parts. I thought you were talking about Pelé, O Rei, The King. The king of soccer.

"Who?" said Paul?

--Bill H.

"What's so funny?" demanded Paul.

"It's just--" Jeremiah managed to keep from laughing. "It's just that I can't see you having a woman anywhere near you."

"That's OK," grinned Paul. "Have another beer."

Jeremiah gladly helped himself. Funny, the beer back home never affected him quite like this. Giggling, he lay down on the sand. "You wanted me like this, right, Paul?"

"Yup. Just like that. All comfy?"

"Uh-huh." Jeremiah laughed again. "I'm sleepy."

"Then take a nap. You had a long flight."

Jeremiah closed his eyes. He felt heavy, as if he were being pulled down. Beer in texas never did that.

"He's out," said Isaiah.

"Good. Let's pour now, and if he sets up right we'll have our second statue."

"I hate to waste him," sighed Isaiah. "Good looking kid."

"I know. But Pele gives, and Pele takes away. Let's pour and be done. Then we can see if the others are setting properly."

Isaiah nodded and began to pour.


Paul pretended to laugh at the story as he edged closer to the mixer.

"What you doin', Mr Paul?" asked Isaiah.

"Just want to check the mixture."

"What's that chantin' I hear?" asked Jeremiah. He looked behind him and cried out as figures wearing eerie masks emerged from the jungle. "Who's that?"

Paul whisked out a machete.

"Sorry, boys, but I don't have time to create statues from scratch. You're such prime specimens of manhood you'll do just fine instead."

"But why?" screamed Jeremiah as Paul swung the machete.

"It's not just pork chops that Pele hungers for," sneered Paul in a droning voice. "I brought you here to be her sacrifice."

"Pele, Pele," chanted the figures as they approached.

The two men tried to run but they were swiftly surrounded. Their screams were swallowed up as they were thrown into the cement mixer head first.

As the sun set that evening, the guests at the celebration hosted at Paul's cliff top villa praised the lifelike quality of the two cement statues at Pele's feast.


"What?" Isaiah said, as he straightened his back.

"She said 'pork chops'? Pele doesn't eat pork chops."

"That's what the stewardess said."

"That's airline code. If she says 'pork,' it means she wanted you. You know, Mile high Club? She wanted you to pork her. It's a signal."

* * *

Portland, OR. Renowned local artist Isaiah DeVaule was led, handcuffed, from an airplane today, apparently after molesting a member of the cabin crew mid-flight. He has refused to comment on the incident. However, flight attendant Betsy Stannup told us, "We were on the middle of the meal service. I'd just told him what the choice of entree was when he made a grab for me." Inquiries are continuing.


"You best be careful what you say, bruddah," a big Samoan named Tiny called as he dropped another sack of cement on the deck. "She don't take kindly to howlies makin' fun."

"Leave my cousin be, Tiny. He doesn't understand."

Jeremiah looked between them as the two men laughed and slapped each other's backs. Something they weren't telling him. Something that he was beginning to think he should find out Real Soon Now.

"What's so funny?" he ventured.

"Nuttin' brah."

"Just local humor, Jer. Nothing to worry about."

He thought about the big barbecue they'd hauled up here, and how the guy manning it had come over, asked him how tall he was. And the conversation about pork...

"Hey Paul, I'd like to take a lunch break. Head down to Hilo and take care of some biz." He started to back toward his car at the looks his comment inspired.

A blow to his head had him on the ground, stunned. From what seemed a long distance he heard Tiny's voice: "No, brah, you da special guest at da luau. Time for some true Island hospitality."


Isaiah spun to face him, abandoning the mixer crank. "She would make her presence felt for pork chops?"

"Yeah," Jeremiah spit through what looked to become a full-blown giggling fit. "Hot dogs, too!"

"Then what the hell are we doing with this concrete? Why not just roast twenty cases of Oscar Meyer Wieners over a bonfire tonight?"

Was Paul hiding a smile behind the dust mask? His eyes seemed to be crinkling with merriment -- or maybe the volcanic dust was blowing into them. There's something weird about these two, Isaiah decided.

"You'll see," came Paul's filtered answer, setting off another burst of giggles from Jeremiah.

At last, the cement was ready, and the two laborers dropped to the soft grass, dusty and exhausted. Paul pulled on a pair of latex gloves. "There's a cooler of margaritas in the truck," he said over his shoulder. "Help yourself, while I get to work."

"Margaritas," Isaiah muttered, more to himself than to his blond, now badly sunburned, companion. "The drink of menopausal women."

"Pele likes margaritas," responded the other, in a warning tone.

Unable to think of a response that wouldn't offend, Isaiah said nothing, but opened the liftgate.

The pigs -- there must have been a dozen of them, apparently starved, possibly rabid -- rushed at him, biting and slobbering at his dusty, muscular forearms. Their crazed grunts blended with those of Paul and Jeremiah, heaving against him from behind, forcing him headlong into the squirming mass of porcine flesh.

The forked hooves were sharper, and the odor more palpable, than he'd expected. The slobber and wet mud of the pigs mixed with the concrete dust on his skin, and Isaiah felt it harden immediately. Though he barely heard it through the sea of pigs engulfing him, the hatch slammed shut.

"Pele will be so pleased." Jeremiah's excited chuckle, he did hear.

--Kalynne Pudner

Paul shook his head as he walked off to get another bag of cement. That story haunted him like the spirit of Pele haunted the island. Truth was, it was more that the woman's presence he'd felt in the car, and twenty minutes with the legendary Slack Sallie was worth the price of a few leftovers.

Luckily his wife was as superstitious as anybody, and he'd gotten away with the smell of cheap scent and the missing pork chops. Not so luckily, his wife didn't know when to keep her mouth shut; and now, as Pele's chosen one, he had to spend his summers breaking his back making these fucking statues.


Evil Editor said...

I suppose if the actual story goes the way the continuation suggests, I should choose one of the few continuations that doesn't involve making statues from people.

"I promised two statues; that's why I flew you here." seems an odd thing to say, if not an As you know, Jeremiah moment. Surely he didn't fly them to Hawaii without already explaining. Not that I wouldn't accept a free trip to Hawaii without explanation, but when my benefactor then put me to work mixing cement, I wouldn't be saying, This is Eden, etc. I'd be saying, Mix your own cement, I'm hitting the beach.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Dunno, Dave. It's well written, but it's not doing anything for me. And I'm not sure why exactly. I'll ponder it some more and see if I can give you a better answer later. Could be it's just not my type.

Dave Fragments said...

This opening bugged the crap out of me every time I looked at the "Continue an Openings Page" and re-read it. I'd say to myself, I don't like that (and I really didn't) and change it again. I'm still not satisfied with the revision.

So now, mucho angst later, I get to read the possible continuations and EE"s and the minion's comments.

It's going to take me all afternoon to think about these openings. You guys pick out the faults to write those continuations.

Robin S. said...

Dave, is this a short story opening or a chapter opening?

I've been reading through it, and it feels more like a scene piece to me. Like something happened 'before' this. It may just be me. I'm having trouble orienting myself.

I like how it's written, but I don't know about an opening, in my opinion.

Dave Fragments said...

It's a halloween story. Or maybe a twilight zone episode. Something like that. A short story because it moves so fast. I owe a friend a story about statues and he's called in the debt.

The two young men have been bought and sold into believing that they'll get a free vacation if they just let Paul make them into two statues for a night. He's never going to break them out of the cement. Now that would be kinda halloweenish or Serling-ific enough for 1955.

With the Cryptkeeper in mind (remember that cackling skeleton?) the surprise is that Pele will visit them. And just like Mister John (Don Giovanni) had to eat dinner with the dead commandatore (look up Mozart), the evil Paul will be forced to meet his "bride" Pele, for whom he "sacrificed" two "sons"...

The 2008 version requires blood to splatter off the walls and a green creature to sneak up from the depths and devour semi-naked teen girls while they have hot, lesbian sex on the sand. Then the Odd-ones would appear and the Karmic Kadavers would visit the island (ala LOST).

Lots of needless quotation marks in that one sentence.

I think that you are correct, Robin. I'm trying too hard to start in the middle of the story and yet get all the story into the first couple paragraphs.

Evil Editor said...

Try starting with the lesbian sex scene. And don't forget to submit it for a continuation.

Robin S. said...

"a green creature to sneak up from the depths and devour semi-naked teen girls while they have hot, lesbian sex on the sand."

Well, Dave, I absolutely feel that naked same-sex sex would be good here. Really good. But naked man on man is better for me. Can't you go that way? Maybe the guys get all hot and bothered looking at the hardening statues of those guys or something? Other than the fact that there's no place in there where I can personally fit in(or am wanted) - I like the guy on guy idea lots better.

I'm not kidding, by the way. Does it have to be naked women? I see one (me) every morning. Boring. The guy thing? I would absolutely read that.

McKoala said...

I'm sorry, Dave, but I found this start very confusing. Many names are introduced and I found the men were talking about things which were difficult to relate to one another. There was also no real sense of location or grounding. Great idea, though.

Xenith said...

I'm trying too hard to start in the middle of the story and yet get all the story into the first couple paragraphs.

You know if you get all the story in the first couple of paragraphs, it's going to be a very short story :)

How about you settle for letting us know something about who, where, when & what instead?

Especially where & when. Agree with McKoala, it needs a sense of location.

Dave Fragments said...

If you go back up to my 12:22 post, I saw the same problems McKoala and Xenith saw. In fact, I said harsher things to myself over the time I waited for EE to post this.

I think this is the revision. Of course you realize, I never finish editing.

Jeremiah dumped a bag of cement into the mixer. Dust outlined his muscles and grayed his curly hair. He shook his bare torso and leaned into the cool ocean breeze. He wanted to grab his surf board and jump into the clear blue water of the Pacific.

"I hate this crap sticking to my skin."

"Quit complaining. You know the deal -- play statue for a day and get a month-long vacation in paradise," Isaiah said, rotating the mixer.

"Paradise? Something about sleeping next to an active volcano scares me. Kilauea rumbled all last night." Jeremiah turned around. Paul, their host stood behind him.

"Pele walks among us. I hope you gave thanks when she passed, young man," Paul said.

"The stewardess said that Pele the fire goddess lives in the volcano and gets hungry for pork chops. She said a man driving home from a pig roast one night, felt the presence of a woman in his car. He almost wrecked the car but nothing was there. But when he got home, the leftover pork chops were missing." Jeremiah giggled. "I'd give you even money that he made up the story about the missing ribs so his wife wouldn't know he porked his mistress. But Pele knew, she smelled tuna on the man's... ," Jeremiah giggled.

"Aw come on Jeremiah, grow up. The man is paying us for being beach bums. This is so much better than rainy, old Seattle. Nothing comes for nothing." Isaiah scowled. He added water to the mixer.

"I'll give Pele her due any day. I didn't think I'd have to mix the cement."

"Jerk, neither the volcano nor Pele bothers me. Second-degree sunburn and dehydration do." Isaiah ran a hand through his buzz cut. Dirt and sunblock crusted his scorched red body.

This seem to flow a bit better and not be as talkative and explanation ridden. And because it's cliche nowadays, I took out the mention of one boy being blond and the other a redhead.

And I used the Anonymouse's idea of the Mile High Club. I liked all the continuations.

I thought about the lesbian mud-wrestling (or gay boys in black leather wrestling in olive oil, take your pick) but that's such a biblical story when Pele the Goddess reaches her fiery arms out of the ground and "captures" the sinners. I can't think of that today. Maybe after Ash Wednesday when the Church wears purple sackcloth and the parishioners dress in ashes.

writtenwyrdd said...

I liked this, butI was kind of confused. I think I liked it mostly because I kept thinking anticipatory thoughts of all the bizarre places this piece seemed to want to go. It feels like a short story opening to me, for what that's worth (likely not much.)

Sarah Laurenson said...

This comment version's much better Dave. Though going from pork chops to ribs threw me.

I like the whole story idea. Give me the lesbian sex any day, but the real lesbians and not the fakers you men seem to want.


Dave Fragments said...

That's really a big, glaring boo-boo. I can't believe that one got away from me:
the leftover pork chops were missing." Jeremiah giggled. "I'd give you even money that he made up the story about the missing ribs so his wife wouldn't know he porked his mistress. But Pele knew, she smelled tuna on the man's... ," Jeremiah giggled.

bad, bad, bad! (I deserved a little crap today.)

the leftover pork roast was missing." Jeremiah giggled. "I'd give you even money that he made up the story about the missing roast so his wife wouldn't know he porked his mistress. But Pele knew, she smelled tuna on the man's meat," Jeremiah giggled.

That actually makes his joke into something puerile. Rather than distracting the reader, the reader says "Oh what a Beavis and Butthead jerk he is."