Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Beginning 513

The Chandler pulp and paper mill served up its usual sulphuric stink with extra sauce on the day JC Bernard decided to kidnap his best friend Alphonse.

As he trudged to the end of the back lane, he took special care with his footing in half-melted chunks of dirty ice. He skirted a snow bank and stared out at Chaleur Bay. When he glimpsed a cavorting pair of humpbacks a few kilometres out on the steel grey water, he grinned, feeling the cold air on his bare gums.

His smile turned to a grimace when a sharp pain invaded his hip, shooting down his leg. He leaned on his cane and attempted to shake out the bee-stings of age. everything hurt these days – he was lucky to get out of bed, much less hike a hundred yards behind his house.

Getting Alphie out of the nursing home wouldn't be easy either, but he figured he'd have no trouble talking the boys into helping. Not so long ago, they had no trouble rising at four in the morning for their yearly pilgrimage to Montreal to take in a Habs game. Would this be so different?

Probably. But when you were nearly dead, what did it matter? Better to go out like this than to gently whisper your last breath to an old germanic nurse who reeked of baby powder and dollar store soap. And this was sure to be easier than the time they broke Alphie out of prison. No armed guards.

JC rubbed at his aching hip and pushed himself on. By the time he reached the marina, the boys were there waiting for him, shivering from the cold, but with grins as wide as the bay. He nodded in greeting and shook their hands and prepared to lay the plan out to them. People wouldn’t be calling him a senile old fantasist after this. He’d go down in history as the man who sprang Al Capone, assisted by Quasimodo and Richard III.

Opening: Chumplet.....Continuation: Anon./Scott from Oregon/freddie


Anonymous said...

Objective analysis of the difference between kidnapping an aged acquaintance, and attending a Habs game:

Get up early
Collect the boys
Scale the wall
Avoid the dogs
Climb in the window
Sneak past the nurses station
find Alphie's room
Wake Alphie without him shouting out
Lower Alphie out of the window
Drop Alphie
Get Caught
Get Arrested
Get convicted
Go to jail
Don't pick up the soap.

Habs Game
Get up early
Take bus to Montreal
Walk through Bell Center gate
Find Seat
Watch Game & eat hot dogs
Meet team in changing room
Don't pick up the soap.

Anonymous said...

My trouble is, I really like this opening and want to know where it's really going. So I just can't pick up on some flaw and try to twist it into a half-decent continuation.

And I can't pick a favourite continuation for similar reasons. I enjoy them all, while wondering, "is this one closest to the real thing?"

Or maybe my brain is rotting faster than expected.

Stacy said...

This opening is intriguing. No complaints about the writing.

Whirlochre said...

This is very good.

Nice set-up and some great images. Lots of feely stuff without it being overdone — the 'bee sting' line is my favourite.

Dave Fragments said...

I like all the elements but it doesn't sing. I think it's because too many sentences start with "he." I think it's just me, too. I feel like I want JC Bernard to have some zip and snap in P2 and P3.

He must live next to the Chandler Pulp and Paper Mill. At least near renough to get that stink. Have you thought about having him walking past the Mill instead of the totally mundane "back lane." I'm trying to visualize the lane he's walking on... He's following a coastal road around the bay and out on the water where the sun rose, he see whales.

I'd like to hear a little more about the story.

BTW - I liked the call out to Quasimodo and Richard III.

Bernita said...

It's lovely.
Only one thing. His eyesight must be indeed wonderful if he can spot humpbacks a mile or so out in the bay.

Evil Editor said...

I've been on a couple whale-watching excursions in steel-grey waters, and it's hard enough to see the whales when they're alongside the boat. They're the same color as the water, and they barely break the surface. And using the formula the square root of h(2r sub p + h), the horizon itself is only a few kilometres out. An old man spotting whales a few kilometres away seems unlikely.

Otherwise, very nice.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I liked it. Nice flow into the story line. I got a bit pulled out with the kilometres mixed with yards. Do Brits say yards?

Dave Fragments said...

Instead of whales, how about dolphins jumping. I've been at the shore and I know that you can see dolphins jumping quite a distance out.

Whales tend to rise high enough out of the water to smack their flukes. Dolphins actually leave the water and fly.

writtenwyrdd said...

I liked this opening, and it reminded me of that movie S.O.B. for some reason.

No nits to pick for me, although I am sure there's always something that could be edited.

Bonnie said...

I thought the opening was too good to make fun of, not without being a lot meaner about old people than I felt like being.

I didn't have any trouble with the whales being so close because one of the reasons one visits Chaleur Bay is to see the whales up close, and Chandler is right on the water. Also, humbacks tend to breach a lot and you can spot them by their breath even if you can't see them clearly. It made me think that the old man has lived here all his life, knew the bay intimately, and was taking time to savor it. One of the things that made me like him immediately.

Anonymous said...

Nice work, Chumplet. I'm rooting for JC right away.

I think you can improve the opening line though. I don't know about anyone else, but when I read "Chandler pulp" my brain immediately went to Raymond Chandler's early work in the pulp mags. So I stumbled out of the gate, and then I had work a little to get the "sulphuric stink with extra sauce" phrase to make sense. But then I read "kidnap his best friend..." and it's game on.

Good opening and I'd definitely read on.

Robin S. said...

Hey chumplet-

I really like this - and I'd read on, girl. Definitely.

Sandra Cormier said...

Thanks, guys and gals! I plan to make this a short story to submit to a publication like Glimmer Train.

I lived in Chandler when I was eight years old. One winter I climbed to the top of a snowbank near the golf course and clearly saw whales breaching. Their tails rose right out of the water. Not bad, since I was nearsighted. I shouted to my friends to come see, but they ignored me.

And boy, was that pulp mill stinky! I never heard of Raymond Chandler LOL!

Bonnie! Have you been to Chandler?

Thanks, EE for bumping this up. It got kinda lost in the Million Hit celebration.

Evil Editor said...

The question isn't whether whales can be seen, it's whether thay can be seen a few kilometers out by someone who's not standing on a snowbank. Due to the curvature of the Earth, it's impossible to see anything very far out. How many kilometers is "a few?"

Sandra Cormier said...

One mile is 1.62 kilometres. So, how far can we see out to sea?

If I say a couple of kilometres, or maybe just say 'the horizon', would that be sufficient?

I was fairly short, and the snowbank wasn't that big if I could climb it at 8 years old. I wasn't THAT athletic. JC certainly isn't.

I hope I'm not explaining too much. I got into trouble for that when I explained 'puppy-sheep-cow eyes.'

Evil Editor said...

If he's average height he could see maybe four kilometers. But I'd go with two at the most for a whale, which wouldn't come very far out of the water, and isn't colorful, and doesn't move fast, and is being looked at by a guy whose body is falling apart so his eyesight isn't what it used to be.

Julie Weathers said...

I think this is intriguing, but I had pause at the whale watching.

I know I'd like to read more of it. Adventure in the air, methinks.

none said...

Brits do say yards--at least those educated before the schools finally bought new textbooks following metrication do. When I was a schoolkid, we were told we were going to learn the new metric system, but all our books were in Imperial. And continued so to be. Farcical.

Sandra Cormier said...

Canada went metric over fifteen years starting in the early 70's, but older Canadians still think in Imperial or U.S. measures. My kids don't know Farenheit from fiddlesticks.