Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Beginning 1019

Right now, as I fight the shakes trying to tear my aching limbs from my body, I struggle to hold one salient piece of information in my brain: Don’t swallow.  That may not seem extraordinarily difficult, but I haven’t had a drink in two days. And my mouth is full of liquid. Problem? If I swallow my season is over. Fucked, before I even step onto the mat. So I follow the other two sadasses who failed the hydration test yesterday for my third, and final, inspection.

“Let’s go boys,” the trainer calls. He’s usually gone by six and we’ve pushed it to the limit tonight.

We hustle forward, well, maybe not quite hustle. Our legs are weak from running the school’s treadmills halfway to Hell, so it’s more of a shamble. I catch a glimpse of my ragged reflection in the mirrors as I enter the trainers’ office. My pointy hips and knees and shoulder blades break rank from my curving deltoids and rippling abs. I clutch my suddenly-too-big shorts and step with as much strength as I can summon.

Ahead of me Boyle and Givens take their specimen cups and teeter off to the toilet closet. Again, I straggle along, cup in hand, fighting the urge to swallow. Trainers can’t go into the toilet with us, but they don’t let us close the door, either. Not like wrestlers could really hide a bag of piss in our clothes like football players do. Wearing the lightest shorts we own we’re practically naked. Boyle and Givens undoubtedly will be naked in a few seconds.

That's when the angel appears, piercing a shimmering arc of haloes, Sonic-the-Hedgehoglike, with a parabola of holiness from her piss flaps.

"Rule Number One, semi-naked guys: the word 'swallow' is a red rag to a bull as far as I'm concerned."

Me, Boyle and Givens cry, "WTF, weird avatar!"

"Rule Number Two," the angel continues, rolling incandescent drool about her lips with the careworn adeptness of a veteran interior decorator spray painting a window ledge, "never mention the word 'necklace' in conjuction with its shorter cousin, 'pearl'."

I turn to Boyle and Givens. Every pec and ab quivers like a shaved cat morphed into a scrotum by Loki. "Hey, Mrs Angel. We never said nothin' about no pearl necklaces."

A cloud of pure benevolence arranges itself over the angel's filthy smirk. "Rule Number Three is entirely arbitrary, my personal pet prohibition. It's time you boys learned the difference between taking and giving, bending over and leaping for joy, Genesis and Exodus. And while you're at it — SMILE, you chumps! If those shorts of yours had been a single size smaller, I'd have passed you over for Barry Manilow mis-tweezering a gray pube from his oiled and pretzel-imprinted crotch..."  

Opening: Veronica Rundell.....Continuation: Whirlochre


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

When Boyle backed out of the WC with the biggest piece of wood I'd ever seen-- I gasped,  choked, and then quit breathing after inhaling the liquid (is that spit?) in my mouth.
As blackness closed over the edges of my vision, a trainer leaned over me as I lay on my back, and said, "Too stupid to swallow, too stupid to breathe, and she can't hit the cup. What a shame. Put your bra on and get back to the cheer squad."
Everything went black.

I vomit a little as I think about the obnoxious bumper sticker that made me get into hang gliding: "Warning: Hang Glider Looking at Clouds". If only I hadn't signed up to hang glide around the world, because now I'm shivering in shorts in Patagonia, and engaging in some kind of hang gliding bodily fluid projection contest. I have no idea who I am anymore.


Dave Fragments said...

Surprise, a New Beginning appears.

When I first read this it was a struggle to get through until I realized that it was a HS or college wrestler. I didn't understand what the liquid filled mouth was because most of those wrestlers were not like gymnasts but skinny sort of dudes - all skin and bones - and they tried to lose weight. Water was weight so they didn't drink lots on match days. They did the spitting thing with a glass so they kept losing weight and making a lower weight class.

So all of this opening seemed wrong to me and confusing. I didn't recognize what the narrator was talking about fast enough.

I also didn't realize that the urine test was for something other than hydration. I think you should fix that and make it apparent that the narrator is a wrestler at a weigh in preparation for meeting his weight class AND that this is also a drug test for whatever drugs.

CavalierdeNuit said...

O my Whirlocre! I can't stop laughing.

Charles Flaum said...

They did the spitting thing with a glass so they kept losing weight and making a lower weight class.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comments. The piss test is for hydration. The MC knows he'll fail so his mouth is filled with a teammate's....urine. My critique group tells me I should reveal this in the first couple of sentences, so the revision likely will. Still just a WIP but it feels promising to me.

I read one sentence of the continuation and knew Whirlochre had waved his magic fingers. Thanks for the laugh.

Best and thanks!

Dave Fragments said...

Now I understand what is happening. The test is of electrolytes in the urine to determine the wrestler's hydration.

I think I agree with your group. It might only change a word of two in the entire opening. You don't have to explain it, you just have to reveal it as the dodge (or cheat) it is.

I've often said that most of these opening only need minimal changes - like two or three words or a half dozen at most.

CavalierdeNuit said...

I agree with Dave. I wasn't sure what was going on. I think with a little editing and rewording, it will make more sense.

Jo-Ann S said...

Yeah, colour me confused too.

When I first read it I thought the fellow was a contestant on one of those weird Japanese extreme endurance-type tv shows and his challenge was to fill a bucket with liquid using only his mouth as a vessel after a few fluid-free days. Or something. That he was cheating on a test was not immediately apparent to me.

But if you made it clearer, IMO it would be a risky opeing gambit to introduce your MC carrying a mouthful of pee. Some readers (ok, like me) might not get past that sort of ick factor.

I'm wondering why he has to tell himself to not swallow - my challenge in that situation would be to not heave (regardless of how thirsty I was).

Nevertheless, for those who can get past the ick, it sounds like he's an interesting MC, prepared to go to great lengths to achieve his ambition. Always an intriguing hook.

Author said...

Revised Opening:

If you asked one hundred people if piss tastes nasty no doubt ninety-nine would say: “Hell yes!” I’m undecided. But I haven’t had a drink in two days and I’m not exactly thinking straight. Which explains why my mouth is full of urine. I struggle between the need to swallow and the urge to puke. Either happens and my wrestling season is over before I even step onto the mat.

“Let’s go boys,” the trainer calls. He’s usually gone by six and we’ve pushed it to the limit.

Two of my teammates also failed yesterday’s hydration test. We’re up for the third, and final, weight certification inspection. We’d normally hustle, but, after running ten miles on the school’s treadmills, we mostly shamble. The locker room’s mirrors reflect sharp cheekbones, knobby knees, and eight-pack abs. I clutch my suddenly-too-big shorts and step with as much strength as I can summon.

Ahead of me Boyle and Garcia take their specimen cups and teeter off to the toilets. I straggle along, cup in hand, fighting my gag reflex. Trainers can’t enter the stalls with us, but they’re close enough to eliminate any privacy.

Evil Editor said...

I don't understand why he has urine in his mouth. I assumed wrestlers merely had to establish their weight class and drug-freeness. Apparently you can't wrestle if you aren't hydrated enough? Or are too hydrated? And he plans to spit the urine into the cup because they test his urine to see how hydrated he is? Was he running on the treadmill to affect his hydration as well?

It seems less explanation would be needed if he had urine in his mouth because he knew his own urine would show he'd been using drugs.

Kregger said...

I remember not understanding your opening the first time I read it. I wrestled back when they used stones as a measure of weight. Wrestling was a balance between starving/dehydration to make weght and loss of power and endurance. No one cared about hydration as long as you made weight. There was a lag time of 45-60 minutes between weigh-in and wrestling on the JV team and 1-2 hours on Varsity. That was plenty of time to scarf sugar and juice to replace energy and water loss.
I know things have changed-everyone w/o grey hair keeps reminding me, but most sports rules remain the same.

Is this some sort of dystopian Pro-wrestling League?

Mister Furkles said...

I looked it up on the internet. For high school, wrestlers must maintain 7% body fat. The BMI test can be fooled by dehydration—according to one blogger. He recommended drinking a lot of water—but not urinating before the test--then sweat off several pounds. The weight will go down and the urine will show a low specific gravity.

But why not just hold water in one’s mouth and spit it into the cup to dilute the urine?

Anyway, the first page is much better and it's well written. I’d read more just to find out what happens. As for the method, … well, teens get goofy ideas all the time.

Unknown said...

American high school wrestlers have to pass both a weight and hydration test in the modern system. I had considered the water/diluting trick, because I've heard of kids who've tried this, usually unsuccessfully. The specific gravity is rather hard to measure by eye especially if the initial sample is too concentrated, as the character's will be. In fact, two paragraphs further in the character comments how the toilet water has been dyed blue to prevent the athletes from dipping water into their specimen cups to dilute their samples.

Two of my sons wrestle at the elite level--as disgusting as this scene is, it's not an unheard of trick in that community. I'm really trying to establish the lengths the character will go to in order to compete at his desired weight. Hopefully the reader will sense his determination. Thanks for the comments.