The priest dogs say God lives in the details. The government dogs say Revolution lives on the streets. The night before I died the first time, I found both.
“What was that?” I poked the Swissman in his ribs with my beer can, took a last swig and tossed it out the window, the clang of its fall punctuated by my belch.
"Didn’t see nothing.” Cole Swissler rapped his ringed fingers across the steering wheel and cut his eyes at me. Even in the dark I could tell he was sneering.
I twisted in my seat.
The Swissman gave me another glare, but he slowed, coasted a little onto the berm and braked. Our Mobi sighed a few times as it rolled to a stop, the pneumo tires adjusting to the uneven surface. “Turn around.”
“Party, you’re too radical.” He twisted backward over the seat and reached for another can of firewater. “Patrollers won’t be taking a piss break forever.” He located a swigger next to the road atlas and hefted it over the console. When he had the top popped, he took a long slow swallow and smacked his lips. “Now,” he said, “what are we turning around for?”
"Never mind, it's too late now." Sure enough, there were sirens flashing behind us.
We waited while a cop strolled up to the car and rapped on the driver side window. The Swissman rolled the window down. “Who are you?” The guy wasn't dressed like any cop I'd ever seen.
Swissler sneered at the cop and took another swig of firewater. “Literary police? You can’t arrest me for drinking and driving.”
“No sir, but I can arrest you for writing a disjointed opening that needs to be read several times before it is fully understood and that fails to inspire a single decent continuation.”
Opening: J.E. Irvin.....Continuation: Matthew
"Roadkill. I saw a mighty fine dead beaver back there. Stuffed with bread and chestnuts it'll make a damn good meal for Captain Quigley's surprise birthday part tomorrow night." The Swissman let out a rip-roaring belch to punctuate my observation. He grabbed my shoulder.
"The radicals been stuffing those thing full of C-4. Poke it a few times so we don't end up smeared all over the road."
"I might be hungry, but I ain't suicidal." were my last words. I did meet God that night. Well, pieces of me did.
"I don't know. I thought I saw something." If it was a hooker, like the voice in the back of my head said it was, the Swissman might loosen up a bit.
"You're just drunk."
I dropped it. Guess I wouldn't be buying a double job after all.
"We left the woman by the smashed Honda still strapped to the gurney. If we leave the sirens off, maybe they'll think we did it on purpose. You know, look cool."
The Swissman looked to the back of the ambulance, watching the doors flap in the 90 mile per hour wind.
"Ah, what a pisser."
"I thought I saw something."
"There's nothing there, man. Get real."
"No, wait. Behind us! Turn around."
The Swissman pulled another U. "I still don't see nothin'"
I leaned out the window; the air felt good on my face. "Behind us! Quick! You see it? Turn around!"
* * *
Forty minutes later, the Cop Dogs found the us chasing our tail on the turnpike, and after some serious butt-sniffing, everyone all knew what was what. Swissman, he rolled like a puppy and we were looking at some hard time back in the pound. I never shoulda stole that guy's slipper.
"uhhh...because you want to check that body for a wallet?"
He finished the can with a gulp. "Damn right," he grinned, gunning the engine. "Hell, I'll make a man of you yet!"
I settled back into my seat. This was going to be the best weekend I ever spent with Grandpa.
"I missed," Mobi said.
"Jeez, how do you miss a mailbox at that speed?" I said, then belched again.
"Time to wrap it up," Mobi said.
The boys dropped me off first. "Hey," the Swissman said. "You almost forgot your Che Guevera biography."
I sighed. I was sure Che's Revolution was never hampered by a 10 o'clock curfew.
More Unchosen continuations:
I didn’t want to tell Swissman what I’d seen. He’d think I was flipping; hell I thought I was flipping. I too grabbed another and took a long swallow. It gave me a few seconds to come with something that didn’t sound like I had done one too many hits ‘shrooms and gone over the proverbial edge.
“Just turn around,” I implored.
“You get us nabbed, I’m going to kill you,” Swissman grumbled as he spun out shrieking the tires and causing a dust devil to spray in the air behind us. For some reason, that made me laugh and my partner glared at me. It began to think I had slid over that edge.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to think about that long when the swirling blackened mists I’d seen out of the corner of my eye came into view. “Cool,” I said. In the middle of it something was moving. I couldn’t see exactly what, but I knew it was something I didn’t want to look at for long.
So I did what any drunken fool would do, “Pull over. Let’s take a look,” I said.
Swissman slammed on the breaks, "What the friggin . . . " he began but his voice fell flat when the naked woman started walking toward us. She would have been beautiful, if she hadn't been carrying a body and if it wasn't for the bat-like wings sprouting out of her and if she wasn't covered in blood. Maybe she wasn't so beautiful.
"We're turning around for some more adjectives and adverbs to throw in here."
"Did I say 'turn?' I meant 'twist!' Let's 'twist' around."
"I don't know."
"Then why turn around? We gotta keep moving. All this talkin's making my beer warm." Swissman glurped down another healthy dose of liquid I-don't-give-a-damn.
"I saw something on the street. Looked like a revolution." I snaked my arm behind my seat and found another can of feel good in the icy water of the cooler. I popped the top as Swissman started our wheels rolling back down the street.
"Nevermind, that's not a revolution. It's just a dead armadillo."
“We’re turning around because the priest dogs say God lives in the details and the government dogs say Revolution lives on the streets and I just saw a dog back there and I need to find out what it says about living, and stuff.”
“Party, it’s like I said.” The Swissman smiled. “You’re too radical.” The Swissman gave me another glare, and that’s when I said it.
“You kill me,” I said.
And the next night, he did.
Eye looked across at him, my brown eyes wide, pleading. I whimpered, "Revolutionary dog forgot his chew-toy."
That "What was that?" in paragraph 2 sounds like it's directed at the narrator's first paragraph. Sort of like, "Say what?!
Maybe if the 2nd paragraph began, We were driving north on Mulholland when I saw what looked like a body on the berm, we'd be better grounded.
The last paragraph isn't easy to follow. You might just say He twisted backward over the seat, grabbed another can of firewater, and popped the top. Locating a swigger and hefting it over the console is a lot of jargon signifying very little. Colorful language is fine in small doses, but for something as simple as getting a beer, don't make us work too hard or you'll lose us quickly.
Lots of pretty language that's too hard to figure out and really not covering a lot of action. Very pretty language though.
Nice continuation, although technically the Swissman didn't write the opening. He was just an accomplice.
What genre is this? For whatever reason, I always assume SF (I'm ever-hopeful, I guess), which made the talk about dogs in the 1st paragraph weird (are they real dogs? is this a world in which dogs are the sentient master race?), and the jargon later on that much more confusing (is a swigger different than a beer? what's a berm? is the Mobi the car? do pneumo tires mean something different than regular tires?).
Also, who's "Party"? Is that the narrator? What do the Swissman's comments mean about being "radical" and about the patrollers?
Here's a chart of my rough idea of where and when this takes place:
Pgh 1: 20th century Russia
Pgh 2-4: Modern America
Pgh 5: I don't recognize Mobi or pneumo tires, so either Europe or the future
Pgh 6: Firewater? What is this, a 19th-century reservation? Have stopped caring
It's great to be colorful and vivid but please, please give me something to hang on to. In this case, it would help to cut the first paragraph and spend some time in the next two adding details that set the time and place (brand of beer, Cole's clothing).
I LOVE the first paragraph. Beautiful. I read on...hopeful...hopeful... but damn it, I am totally lost. I don't think wow to WTF is your goal, so keep that first paragraph but tie it in, make it make sense, transition, baby.
I found the first two sentences dense but I was pulled in by The night before I died the first time, I found both.
I was confused by the sudden transition to the second paragraph (I see EE has a good suggestion on how to deal with that) and I struggled a bit with phrases like he cut his eyes at me. I'm reminded of A Clockwork Orange and I'm hoping that this is going to be worth the effort of learning a new language.
Dying more than once makes me think sci fi and I have to say that I am intrigued.
Nice first paragraph. Am I the only one who read it as the narrator finding the details and the streets instead of God and the Revolution?
I guess so.
Okay, why not start the rest of the story _after_ they've turned around and reached whatever it was they were turning around for? Because that has to be more interesting than two guys with funny names belching and swigging beer.
If it isn't, start the story where something interesting happens - because the lure of that first paragraph is only going to sucker your readers in for so far.
This looks like it has potential, but it needs more clarity.
"I died the first time," makes me think this is a vampire story.
Swissler reminds me of Stiffler from American Pie.
Matthew, that's amazing!
First sentence: confusing. Second sentence (as far as dying the first time goes): interesting. Can you reword it to get the dying up front?
The mentions of dying, revolution, patrollers, and Party give a hint of something interesting.
I liked your opening and I wanted to learn more. However, as observed by everyone else - I did have to read it a few times to get the gist of most of what was going on.
A few suggestions - I agree with EE getting a beer from the back of the seat should be easy to do and easily read.
I want to know why the father is on the python - but I don't want to work that hard to figure it out - I also want to know why his son is not shrieking his head off - hey that's my dad! Turn around. Oh my god, the priest dogs are at it again.
My first impression was that it was full of private code talk and not really meant for public consumption so I wasn't motivated to keep reading it over and over and over...
But both what? Both God and Revolution? Both details and the streets? I'm confused.
I actually quite like this. Nice voice. The only thing that jarred for me was "firewater." Yes, I'm a bit lost as to setting, but I figure I'll figure it out soon. I'd trust J.E. enough to read a few more pages.
Seems to be a struggle to create a rich background which you're trying to do all at once.
I recently had this pointed out to me as, "A baby is born: it wants to feed, it does not want background of the evolution of mammals or the anatomical internal workings of the breast: start with the action and fill the background later. If your action really does need explanation then don't be so boring."
D Jason Cooper
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