Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Beginning 550

Benkelstein, trying to recall the lyrics to a Rice Krispies jingle while driving eastward on Highway 70, almost missed the new sign. It was green, with white lettering. “To I-40,” it read, with an arrow pointing to the right. Benkelstein hit the brakes, just hard enough to slow to twenty-five miles per hour, and pulled off at the new exit. “It’s about time!” he said to his wife. “I was beginning to think they’d never get this road finished.”

“Hmm?” Mrs. Benkelstein said, looking up from her book.

“Why, this’ll cut a full ten minutes off our trip easily,” he went on. “Let's see, that’s twenty minutes round trip, and since we visit your mother once a month, twelve times a year--twelve too many, I might add-–we should--”

“I’m not listening,” Mrs. Benkelstein said. She went back to reading 101 Ways to Slice a Batard.

Benkelstein pressed on the accelerator as he mentally calculated the number of years it would take this new short cut to save him a full twenty-four hours behind the wheel.

Fifty yards in, Benkelstein passed the new road’s first sign. "840," it read, and below that, the word "Future."

"Geese cackle , feathers tickle, beets pickle . . . " he sang. "No, that's not it . . . "

Mrs. Benkelstein turned the page. "If you don't look where you're going, we'll be pickled."

Benkelstein took no notice. He was calculating how much time he'd save by exceeding the speed limit in increments of both five and ten miles per hour.

The SUV roared up a hill, and flew into the air when it reached the top.

Hmm, Benkelstein thought, maybe I-840 isn't finished after all.

Opening: Evil Editor.....Continuation: BuffySquirrel


pacatrue said...

I have nothing productive to say. I'm just shocked to see a novel opening based upon the new freeway loop around Nashville. (Yes, used to live there.)

I hope you stopped at Cracker Barrel.

That is all.

Stacy said...

I really like the passage. It reads easily and the humor works. The continuation is hysterical! Well done, Buffy!

Is this an opening, EE? I think it works, even though you'd be breaking the apparent cardinal rule of openings (no sitting, driving, walking somewhere) that I read about all over the agent blogs. Reason i say it works is that when I read the last word, "Future," I felt something exciting was about to happen.

Robin S. said...

I have productive stuff to say - I'll be back later when I have more time.

In the meanwhile- EE and Buff make a good team!

Whirlochre said...

This is interesting, and I love the small details about the Rice Krispies and the batard.

It's an everyday scene, clearly rolling pell-mell towards something unusual.

My only gripe is the repetition of Benkelstein. Maybe 'he' could hit the brakes and pass the new road's first sign and 'his wife' could do the not listening — unless there are multiple Benkelsteins in the car, which would be really bizarre.

Dave Fragments said...

Well no wonder 840 is not finished. Nashville spent all the money on kitty cats.

Years ago, we had a bridge to nowhere. If you look at the current pics of Pittsburgh, the bridge that now goes from downtown to the two sports stadiums, that bridge sat for years without ramps to the north shore (stadium side)
and (oh yes, you guessed it)...
one night after a binge drunk a guy drove though all the barricades and launched his car from the end of the bridge to nowhere and landed, about 20 feet forward, in the mud of the river back. he wasn't hurt (alcohol does that). He said he just wanted to see if it could be done.

Truth is so very much stranger than fiction.

writtenwyrdd said...

It feels all *wrong* to criticize you, EE.

That was a bizarre first line, and the rest is funny. Kind of Carl Hiassen funny. And that ending just seems so perfect for the beginning.

Dave Fragments said...

It's a good opening since it introduces Benkelstein and his wife and puts them into the story in a few sentences.

I do math so fast, I wondered why Benkelstein was taking so long in calculating six years.

Is six a significant number? There are lots of numbers here - 3, 4, 6, 20, 24, 25, 40, 50, 70, 101, 840, . Is this embedded numerology or just coincidence?

Robin S. said...

The first line - is what tripped me up.

The rest ran along so smoothly, and made me grin.

So- you know about the South, huh, Sparkster?

I have to tell ya, I'd figured you for a South-a-phobic type. Now if it ever turns out you're actually from the South, I'll have to go into therapy.

Surely you were just driving through. Surely.

Chris Eldin said...

I really like this. It also reminded me of Carl Hiassen.

I agree with the comment about Be..stein being mentioned too many times.

And I felt left hanging with the Rice Krispies jingle, which I thought was really funny.

I thought you could delete his minutes musings in the last paragraph and replace them with Rice Krispies musings:

"Snap, what a happy sound/ Snap is the happiest sound I found/ You may clap, rap, tap, slap, but Snap makes the world go round/ Snap, crackle, pop "

Then we he comes upon the Future sign, it would feel even more surreal.

Just my two cents....

Loved this!!

And Buffy, you slay me!!!

none said...

EE gets some of the credit!

kaolin fire said...

Nice job sqrl! :D

Anonymous said...

HA! Fact #1: I knew it was EE's without looking!
HA! Fact #2: I have a very interesting theory about using acutual numerials. . .

HA! Fact #3: The clip art perfectly matched the snippet.

And there's the overall HAHA factor, which I generously value at "8"! I didn't mind the repetition of Benkelstein so much because I skipped over it after the 1st para.

But please do tell if this be the opening or a chapter??!

PS way to go on the continuation, Bsqrl!


Kiersten White said...

You have a great style, EE. And you clearly like odd-sounding names. I'd definitely be curious as to the fate of Mr and Mrs B.

kaolin fire said...

If you want to see more of the original, you can purchase it for $1.33 here. ((or the entire issue for $3.50 PDF or $10 print)) :)

Sarah Laurenson said...

Interesting. I'd read on a bit more to see if we're talking traffic accident (like the idiot politicians in Louisiana) or a trip to the future. Nice rhythm.

One typo:
“To I-40,” it read,
I thought it was the 840.

One suggestion:
“I’m not listening." She went back to reading 101 Ways to Slice a Batard.
This is the Be...stein I'd drop.

Evil Editor said...

Not a typo, 40 is the Interstate they're trying to get to, 840 is the road they just turned onto, which connects to 40.

And those who naively suggest not using the name Benkelstein as often as possible obviously didn't learn the lesson of Face-lift 290.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Have to admit I read "Batard" as "Bastard" first time around and got off on a whole other tangent...

Sarah Laurenson said...

I'd wondered about that whole 40/840 thing. Thought it might be a connector road thing, but it's not clear if they're taking the 40 to get to the 840 or vice versa or if, as I first thought, it's a typo.

Not a big deal either way. Didn't see it at all the first two times I read this.

pacatrue said...

The world of Smidly (EE's link in the comment) sound distinctly like Thundar the Barbarian.

Robin S. said...

Keep the repetition of the name. I mean to say that yesterday, but yesterday was slammed for me (not that you weren't already gonna keep it).

I like it - adds to both the rhythm and the humor, at least to my inner voice as I read along.

The only thing I tripped over, and I did again today when I reread, was the first sentence. As I have no solution, I'm simply saying.

Hope it doesn't piss you off when we edit you back.

Chris Eldin said...

You made me look up Smidley.

none said...

In the story as published by GUD, "batard" has an accent to more clearly distinguish it from "bastard", which was also my immediate confusion when EE first submitted the story :D. It's only meant to be implied!

talpianna said...

In French, it's the same word. EE is referring to an illegitimate version of a baguette--short, squat, and perfect for sandwiches.

Just like EE, come to think of it...