Monday, April 28, 2014

New Beginning 1027

Marcia Weston, thirteen years old and wearing a damp purple bikini, mixed martinis on top of her parents’ stereo cabinet.

“Isn’t she something?” Mr. Weston said. “Sophisticated, eh?”

“Yes, sir,” I said automatically. I had never seen a bottle of hard liquor before, much less anyone my age mixing drinks. Mr. Weston put his hands on my shoulders and steered me to Marcia's side. “You two girls go play now.” He picked up the tray of martinis and nudged open the sliding glass door to the patio.

Marcia looked me over, taking in my peter-pan collared shirt and corduroy play pants. “Where’d you move from?”

“Raleigh, North Carolina.”

“Oh my God, you sound like the Andy Griffith Show. No, Gomer Pyle. Here, Rah-lee, take this.” She handed me a shallow dish of green olives and grabbed two bottles of cola. “Come on.”

We retreated to a playhouse in the narrow side yard, shaded by a eucalyptus tree. “What’s with the ‘yes, sir'?” Marcia asked. "Is your dad in the military?" She placed olives on her fingers and waggled them. “Eat one. They're soaked in gin.”

In retrospect, it should have been obvious she was talking about the olives, not her parents, and a bit of  intuition on my part would have prevented the horrors that were to follow.

Opening: IMHO.....Continuation: Anonymous


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

I grabbed her hand and inserted her olive-clad finger into my mouth. I bit down hard and separated her finger at her knuckle. Marcia pulled her hand back as blood spurted into the air. Her eyes went as big as saucers. "Not bad, I said. "A little salty, but I prefer my meat unseasoned." I smacked my lips and rolled her finger tip around my mouth. "Did I tell you Rah-lee is southern for cannibal?


Until that moment I hadn't considered a girl could be so appealing, but something about this temptress made my heart beat pitter-pat.

I leaned forward and took her olive-clad finger in my mouth, sucking the tip ever so sensuously. Marcia's gaze darkened, her bikini top fluttering with rapid breaths. The bite of gin was sharp in my mouth as I rolled that olive over my tongue.

"Oy, there, Rah-lee. Didn't your mama teach you to share?" she murmured, dipping her head close to mine and digging that olive from the depths of my mouth with her tongue.

Yes, I think I was gonna like living in LA a whole bunch.

--Veronica Rundell

"Yes. And your Dad does film editing?"

"Yeah. He takes the movies and fixes them so they make sense."

"Wow. And you said some movie people were coming over? Directors or something?"

"Yeah." She sucked on an olive. "Friends of my Dad. I'm going to be in this movie about some pregnant chick. I only get two lines, but it's a start. Maybe they'll like you, too."

"I don't know." I mean, who wouldn't like to be a movie star? I tried not to show my excitement. Real directors!

She licked her olive. "Yeah. Mr. Polanski says I'm great, and Mr. Allen says I'm a natural. Come on!" She smiled. "Have an olive."


Evil Editor said...

I think a thirteen-year-old "sophisticated" enough to mix martinis would consider a playhouse in the yard rather juvenile, and would instead take her guest to the sun room in the east wing or to the game room or the lounge.

IMHO said...

Author here ... I messed up this submission. I changed the characters' names (Mallory Gordon to Marcia Weston) and didn't make the name changes throughout. So if you are confused about names/number of characters, my fault!

Evil Editor said...

Ooops. I did put the revised opening on the page minions used to compose their continuations, but when I needed a copy to post to the front page I forgot and took it from the original email. The changed version is now there, and is the version all the continuation authors saw.

IMHO said...

thanks, ee, for correcting my dumb mistake -- something that would be fatal in a query or a submission!

khazar-khum said...

Love that continuation! It's clearly set in Los Angeles, so it could happen.

I thought 'playhouse' might be a euphemism, unless it's a spiffy retreat built for her in the yard.

Dave Fragments said...

I'm overwhelmed with this. THere's so much information you are trying to convert all at once, it took me three readings to get it all straight.

Unknown said...

Yeah. I was confused about the martini-mixing playhouse kid. They are incongruent. Why not just go to the girl's bedroom? Not like the martini swilling parents would be overly parental and check on them....

Not really sure where this is going, and it feels period to me: 50's/60's which isn't a big selling point-to me.

Just my thoughts. I had confusion.

Mister Furkles said...

It must be late 60s. More modern preteen girls would not know both TV shows and Gomer Pile was mid to late 60s.

I had no problem with it. We don't know anything about the playhouse except that it is outside. It might be as nice as a guest house. You simply can not decide from one page.

Martinis are also mostly a 50s 60s kind of drink. That was when nearly everybody who drank cocktails would expect everybody to know about martinis.

The only problem is that it doesn't draw the reader in but it also does not bore enough to close the book on page one.

It is well enough written to promise an easy read. So I'd be on page ten to twenty before I could decide to read on or move on.

Evil Editor said...

Actually, we know more than the playhouse is outside. We know that it's small enough to fit in a narrow side yard. A guest house would be behind the house if the side yard was narrow. We also know that this girl who affects an air of sophistication refers to it as a playhouse. I would think she'd be embarrassed to say Let's go out to my playhouse to her new friend. She'd come up with a more mature name for it.

Anonymous said...

Although it is the apparently less sophisticated narrator who refers to it as a playhouse...

Dave Fragments said...

I want to add to what I said above.

I found the Bikini cringe-worthy for a 13 year old bus it this was set back three plus or more decades such a thing would be possible and looked on differently.

Making a kid sophisticated in a 50's or 60's household by having her mix martinis is another thing I accept. I was a teen in the last half of the 60's and I didn't touch alcohol but I did know what the stuff was. My Father drank Cutty Sark. I played electric organ in bars (you now call it elevator music) and saw enough boozed up drinkers in my life. I've known drunk kids whose parents never had a clue or were too boozed up with cocktails to care.

That would tie in with the olives. All that makes sense.

What I find overwhelming is a construction like the first sentence:
"Marcia Weston, thirteen years old and wearing a damp purple bikini, mixed martinis on top of her parents’ stereo cabinet. "
Twenty words with her NAME, AGE, CLOTHING, ACTION, and LOCATION in one sentence. GASP!

Give the reader a chance. Maybe this:
Sweet Marcia stood at her fathers stereo plaint bartender and mixing martinis. She was as precise as the olives that went in the martinis and careful trying not to get water on the cabinet as Frank Sinatra crooned an oldie from the speakers. Her father boasted, trying to set up Marcia as my girlfriend.
"Isn't she something young man,"

Now that might be too wordy and might be wrong for the story but it illustrates how to spread out the information in a reader-friendly way. At least for my mind and reading style.

There's also another reason that I put "young man" as the last two words -- -- -- It gives the reader a chance to know who the narrator is rather than that clumsy reference to a very old TV show. You can use the TV show. However, right now in what you wrote, the father's words have no target other than anyone else at the get together. It is a get together or a party, isn't it? Directing the father's words at someone gives them more meaning and indicates to a reader that the person being addressed is important.

The third question is "how important is this narrator?" because you take so little to introduce him other than "Marcia looked him over" and a peter pan shirt and corduroy pants are sexless. In fact, I think that's an over-dressed boy but more likely it's a girl.
Confusion. Even more to put tho words in the father's mouth.

Does that help explain why I found this overwhelming?

Evil Editor said...

Although it is the apparently less sophisticated narrator who refers to it as a playhouse...

Which actually makes my point even stronger. Either Marcia called it a playhouse first, or "playhouse" is the most accurate description the narrator can come up with. If the latter, the narrator should put "playhouse" in quotation marks if she's going to go on to describe it as much swanker than any playhouse she's ever seen. It obviously came from Toys R Us.

In fact, I think that's an over-dressed boy but more likely it's a girl.

It's clearly a girl, as the father says, "You two girls go play now.”

IMHO said...

Author here --
Thanks! As always, helps to have points of confusion pointed out.


Js said...

I liked it. It captured the era well.

My sense is that it's a memoir as opposed to a story for tweens/ teens because of the self conscious reflection by the narrator "I had never seen a bottle of hard liquor before". If aimed at a teen audience the internalisation might have been different, such as "what the? This girl was pouring strong smelling liquor and her parents let her? Mine would have walloped me if I'd done so much as look at our liquor cabinet" or something.

I can sense a frenemy relationship happening here between our innocent MC and her precocious and spoilt new friend. Love it. I'd read on.

Dave Fragments said...

A Martini is gin and vermouth with a green olive in it

The amounts of gin and vermouth are optional. The more gin in the drink, the dryer it is and the more vermouth in the drink, the sweeter it is.

to be blunt: Hard core men prefer lots of gin and soft girly drinkers prefer more vermouth. That was the 1950's aesthetic of alcoholic beverages. Plus, a very dry vodka martini back then was and still is an alcoholics wet dream.

Don't hit me. I don't drink martini's never did.

I saw the drinkers of the 1960's and they didn't have pina colodas or flavored vodka or fancy wine spritzers. They drank whiskey and bourbon and gimlets and black russians. Women drank stingers, grasshoppers, and all those "fancy" things.

This is like visiting MAD MEN on TV to those old movies with cigarettes. Cringe worthy.