Friday, June 08, 2012

New Beginning 954

There’s a moment that happens just before you crash that no one in driver’s ed tells you about. They don’t show it in movies. You won’t find it in any textbook or pamphlet or manual at the DMV. I guess it’s because very few people live to tell about it. What happens in that split, split, split second before the crash that ends your life is this:

You float.

You defy all laws of motherfucking gravity and you hover. It’s like your body wants to try on its ghost suit before it decides if it’s going to buy it.

So unless ghost suits come covered in gravel and pre-soaked in blood I’m betting mine didn’t fit. At least I hope what I’m soaking in is blood, because I’ve been feeling something warm and wet running down my thigh since I hit the pavement (if I live to retell this story, I’m sticking with the bloody version of it). I’d know for sure if I could see over top of the gas tank crushing my chest. I’d ask River to look but he’s no good to me unconscious.

Wait a minute! Wait a motherfucking minute! After I finished scouring the textbooks and the cocksucking manuals at the DMV, I found a catalog in the glove compartment! From LL Bean! Turns out there ARE gravel-covered ghost suits pre-soaked in blood! It fucking worked! If that friggin' gas tank wasn't on my chest I'd still be floating!

Hot damn, River! I been dragging your ass around in the back seat since Halloween 1993 but now I’m coming to join ya!

Opening: H.E. Ellis.....Continuation: Dave Conifer


Evil Editor said...

I don't see that the word "motherfucking" is doing anything more than distracting from the story.

It seems you'd have to be thrown out of the car to become covered in gravel. But to throw you out, the car would have to first stop when it hits something, so it seems unlikely a gas tank would be on top of you. Is this gas tank still attached to its car? Because if so, I would be thinking there's a car on top of me, not a gas tank. Heck, I wouldn't know a gas tank if I saw one. All I know is it's somewhere under the car and there's a hole in the side of the car that comes out in it.

I think of hovering as lasting longer than a split split split second.

Is it your actual corporeal body that hovers? Because wearing your seat belt would prevent that.

I'm not saying I wouldn't read on, just that eliminating these nits would keep me focused on the narration, not trying to picture exactly how the crash played out.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

If you've never been trapped under a car you wouldn't know about the heat. The burning is a killer. A screaming killer, you don't think about what part of the car is burning the skin off you and cooking your flesh.

I liked this opening but hope you will research it more. Searing flesh has a smell to it you can never forget. Maybe talk to some of your local firemen.

I loved the writing but the story needs authenticity. IMHO. Has to be real. Missing the sensation of being cooked alive and the sense of smell.

Nice continuation.

150 said...

Hmm. Having very recently been in a mad huge car crash, I can tell you the floating doesn't start until you're doing flips in midair.

I like this, I like the voice and I appreciate what you're going for, but it doesn't pass my particular sniff test. I'd read on.

Anonymous said...

Gasoline poured onto one's skin does not feel warm. Because of its low heat of vaporization, in normal atmospheric conditions it evaporates quickly, drawing heat from the skin; thus, it feels cool.

Agree with Wilkins: lack of authenticity will get you every motherfucking time.

Dave Fragments said...

I never "floated" when I wrecked my car(s) and I've had a few accidents. Time slows down and you can think the words "oh Sh$$!" as you try not to hit whatever it is that you're going to hit or whatever it is that is going to hit you.

And the memory goes into overdrive (to keep the metaphors automotive) and I do remember every car I had to hit, in detail, excruciating, burned into the memory detail.

Everything sitting on a seat not attached to anything else goes flying around the inside of the car. That includes your eyeglass on your face. My wheelchair broke the window from inside the car when I hit a tree. The doggie thankfully was in the back seat sleeping and all he did was wake up.
The first time -- a woman pulled out about 10 feet in front of my car and every piece of glass and molding left her car when I hit her door. I even remember her head and eyes whipping around as I hit. That's not a pleasant memory (she wasn't hurt).

I never floated.
And the "f" bomb is distracting to me, too.

Jo-Ann said...

For some reason, I pictured the accident victim on a motorcycle - I guess it fits with the detail of the gas tank on the chest.

Then again, it could be because where I come from, we're being subjected to a series of graphic "no speeding" ads involving a motorcyclist meeting a nasty end, and the image is seared in my neurons.

The voice is good. Near death experiences are always interesting. However, there's a contradiction between the two sentences in the first para - about what happens just before your life ends, and few people living to tell about it. Please reword so it doesn't stand out.

@ Dave - I'm glad you lived to tell the tale. And the lady, too.

Dave Fragments said...

@Jo-Ann: Not as happy as I was for no injuries to me or her.

Speaking of motorcycles:

I guess it fits with the detail of the gas tank on the chest.

I had a coworker who in his middle age crisis decided to buy a motorcycle. he drove it out of the shop and got 50 feet from the shop, hit a patch of gravel and caught the front wheel sideways. He flipped over the handlebars and unfortunately held onto the grip with one hand. I think it is called a death grip (Sorry, that was beastly of me)...
That brought the bike down on his chest and broke his ribs, crushed his chest and did all sorts of bad things like collapse a lung as the bike kept on going, rang his chimes, and scraped he skin off his knees and shins as it slid down the road. We were comparing hospital notes and being ghastly, grandly black humorists.

The real insult to his injury was that the doctors had to re-inflate the collapsed lung and (squeamish time) to do that they usually use a pain killer because they use a forceps to spread the ribs apart. (2nd squeamish notice) In his case, they couldn't give him a sedative or even a topical painkiller because they didn't dare decrease his pO2 any more than it was. They shoved a hemostat between his broken ribs and spread them so they could insert the tube to re-inflate his lung. He said it was the most painful thing he ever felt.

But the motorcycle was repairable and he had to pay to get it repaired before he could resell it. That was the final insult. We decided that motorcycles are basic organ donor cards on wheels.

And at least we could laugh at the accident later. Wha else is there to do?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Still, it's got a nice hook and it's well-written. Lose the motherfucking.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Motherfucking didn't bother me in the context it was meant. Actually, in a life/death situation motherfucking/er appealed to me.

What would I say? Aw sit? Poop? MF fit from where I sit. But I sit on the far side.

Author, stay real.

Evil Editor said...

If this were present tense, telling the story as it happens, that might make sense. As the crash is long over (and it wasn't gravity that caused it anyway), the reader will assume this is an author who just likes to pepper his work with curse words, and will reject it, thrilled that he doesn't have to read any further.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Author, go with Evil's guidance. Good luck. Hope to hear more of the story.

none said...

Why should we pander to readers who aren't emotionally mature enough to cope with a bit of swearing? Or are there now no other kinds of readers?

I didn't even notice the 'motherfucking'. What I did notice was I was teased a long time about this big secret that turned out to be not very interesting when it was finally revealed.

Evil Editor said...

You'll pander and like it.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone over the age of 19 actually say "motherfucking".

In fact, I just heard a young man at the supermarket saying "fuck" and "motherfucker" sixteen to the dozen. He was, by the by, tattooed from his chin down to his waist. (Maybe further, but data are lacking.) An avid reader? Quite possibly. Emotionally mature? Only in Buffyland.

But the point about "motherfucking", Buffy, (and this is my response to you for June) is whether it's narratively useful. The writer is trying to impress the reader with a cataclysmic event: a possibly fatal car crash. Yet, like the young man in the supermarket, he's trying to draw attention to himself with "motherfucking". The emotional impact of the car crash suffers as a result.

We'll talk again in July, BS.

As for the piece, I reiterate: it's quite well-written.