The Writing Game
Over break Peter taught Tim and I this game, which, for lack of a better title, I call the writing game. It’s not really a game, in the sense of having a winner or loser, but it’s a good way to get people thinking and having fun (“hey guys, lets sit around and write short fiction” usually doesn’t work too well). The rules of the game are simple. One person picks the title. Another person picks the first sentence, and another person picks the last sentence. Then all the players have 10-30 minutes to write a story with the given title, first sentence, and last sentence. It really is fun, and it is my new favorite game to play. I haven’t written fiction in so long, and it felt really good to get my mind working in that way again. Below are some of the stories that I have written over the course of winter break. Enjoy.
HOT CAJUN CRUNCH MIX
“Big booty Hos!” The spearkers blasted the rude rap lyrics, base bass sounds falling dead against the walls of the darkened room. Sam shifted his gaze momentarily to the ray of light peeking through the closed shades of his windows before returning it back to the bare, colorless walls. He didn’t remember turning the radio on, hell, he didn’t even lik rap music, but it was better than silence. It seemed that was what filled his life now. Racous noise, any noise, anything to fill the silent void that seemt to have hung over his house, his life for almost a year. He listened as a note played, disrupting the song. He stopped and listened carefully. No, it wasn’t a note from the radio, it was the doorbell.
Sam slowly pshed himself off of his bed and trudged wearily down the stairs. The living room, like his bedroom, was still dead and shrouded in artificial darkness save for a few bands of light holding particles of dust captive in their rays. Captive, silent. The room was sterile, not the room of a young family, but like that of his grandparents when he had visited them long ago. The bell rang once more as Sam quickened his steps across the room and to the door. He opened it just as he saw a small green clad figure turning to leave down the porch steps.
“Hey, what do you want?” he called after her.
“Oh, someone’s home,” the young girl replied. “I wasn’t even sure if anyone even lived here.”
“Well, yeah, we live here,” Sam replied. “What’s up?”
“I’m selling snacks for my girl scout troop. Would you like to buy some? We have, umm, cookies, obviously, and some other stuff.”
“Do you really like to wear that uniform?” asked Sam.
“Well, not really,” blushed the girl, her eyes darting furtively as if her words had somehow betrayed some solemn vow. She smiled, “yeah, I guess its kinda goofy. It makes me feel like a little kid. I mean, I’m almost eleven. It’s ok though. A couple of my friends are in girl scouts with me and we have fun on camping trips and stuff.” “Umm,” she blushed again. “Sometimes we’ll go sneak off and hang out with the boys at other campsites. Last time one of the boys gave me a cigaretter, it was kind of gross. I didn’t really like it.”
“Well, smoking’s a bad hait,” Sam replied, the pack of Camels hidden in his pocket suddenly feeling heavier than lead. “You shouldn’t do it.”
“Yeah,” replied the girl.
“Yeah,” said Sam, smiling a little.
“So, umm, my mom is the one who usually buys this shi–, err stuff, but she’s not here right now,” said Sam.
“Oh,” replied the girl, pouting slightly.
“But, umm, what’s the cheapest thing you have?”
“Well,” said the girl, “there’s this cajun crunch mix. It’s only four dollars.”
“Ok, put me down for one of those,” he said, his hand fishing through his pocket for four crumpled bills. He handed the bills to the girl adn her pout now turned to a smile. “It’s so easy for them,” he thought, “no worries, no idea of what’s lying ahead, and no cares even if they did have an idea.”
“Thanks,” smiled the girl. “Hey,” she asked, “do you have a little sister my age or something? I saw a girl’s bike propped up against the garage.”
“No,” the boy paused, “that belonged to someone who used to live hear. I guess she just left it.”
“Oh,” replied the girl. “I guess I should get going. I still have a lot of stuff to sell if I want to go to camp this summer.”
“Okay,” said Sam. “It was nice meeting you.” “Oh yeah,” he called as she walked away, “stay away from those cigarettes.
Sam walked back into his house and shut the door. The room was dark and still once again. He walked towards the stairs but paused as he noticed a beam of light reflecting off of the glass covering of an embroidery piece hanging framed on the wall. It read, “From whence we have learned, the knowledge we have perceived to use in a world such as ours.”
So there I was, naked behind the strip club. Well, not completely naked, but it is doubtful that the ragged strips of cloth that now hung on my body would be considered clothes by anyone. My overcoat, the only article of clothing that had survived the incident intact was now covering the tiny, shivering, mass crouched behind the dumpster.
“Damn her,” I thought, “damn her to hell.”
I had often spoke ill of my college’s school paper. “Juvenile drivel!” I would often shout as the others in the lecture hall would roll their eyes or avert their glance. But when a friend finally became tired of my whining, she dared me to join the paper and do something about it. It was then that I realized how time consuming it is to publish a paper, drivel or not. The reviews of the awful bar bands, the openings of trite plays directed by anorexic black clad theatre majors, the petty debates over tuition hikes, that became my world for the quarter. It seemed there was little opportunity for muckraking at the school paper. Hell, this place was really as boring as we all complained. I wanted to write something powerful, something that would expose some great social injustice, some horrible wrong. Sure, there were things like binge drinking, cheating, probably things like rape too, but that was old-hat. Rather, it seems, that most of my peers had grown callous to these issues, as I myself had only smirked at the half-hearted attempts of past college journalists to decry these everyday attrocities. So, I was sitting at my desk in my room, trying to finish up some write-up of the football team’s latest victory when I got a call from Tom. Tom was one of my ex-fraternity brothers that I had known the last year before I decided that my 2.5 grade point average probably wouldn’t get me into even the most mediocre gradauate school.
“Hey Tom. What’s happening?” I asked in a bored tone.
“Aww, nawthing much,” he replied, his speech slow and slurred. “Whh-Whassup dawg, a hehe?”
“Not much,” I replied. It seemed even three years of higher education hadn’t made much of a mark on this boy.
“Umm, me an somofda guys, uhh, we were gonna go to that strip club in town, and I was like, hey why don’t I call Mark, he was always one for the ladies. So, choo wanna come?”
I sat for a moment. Now I’m no angel. I’ve fucked my share of girls and have sat impassionately through my share of porno movies, but had never been to a strip club. It always seemed too real for me. It was easy to watch the debauchery while on my couch, but it seemed that it would be harder to escape real images of flesh and lust. “What the hell, I’ll be over in 10.” I heard myself reply into the mouthpiece of the phone. Oh well, I thought. Maybe I could get a story out of it. “Ha,” I laughed to myself as I pictured the headline. “College males flock to local strip club.” Considering the content of our paper though, it could probably even get printed, at least on the back page.
I walked down the snowy streets of the town, branches lining the streets seeming like the arms and fingers of corpses. I quickened my step as I jammed my hands deeper into my coat pockets. Past the drugstore, the bookstore, the coffeehouse, all closed at this hour. I turned the corner, off the brightly lit street of cookie-cutter commercialism and walked a few blocks more, my mind noting the marked change in scenery that came with only a few hundred yards of distance. As I went over the crest of the hill I saw the old neon sign below. It read, “Live ude Gils”. As I neared the bar I noticed Tom and another boy I had known playfully punching each other and throwing snow. Tom noticed me and shouted, “hurry up you faggot, let’s go see some titties.” I stifled my laughter and went into the smoky bar. I looked around. The three of us were the youngest inhabitants of the bar by a good twenty years. Most of the men were old enough to be my father, hell, my grandfather even. I sat down as an overweight girl, fat spewing forth from her two sizes to small skirt, came to take our drink orders. I looked then, for the first time at the stage. It was a sad site indeed. The women on the stage was far from the breathless harlets of my pornography collection. No, she was older, at least thirty, beutiful once, to be sure, but her sorry form now telling a story of too many late nights and hard years. She moved slowly and deliberately, her slithering form and pouted lips almost a parody of eroticism. “Come on, take it off,” shouted a man, seemingly clad entirely in free Marlboro clothing, as he spilled beer on himself resulting in a fit of laughter. “Yeah,” spouted Tom’s friend, “take it all off.” Tom leaned over to me and said, appologetically, “don’t worry, it gets better. They always put the old bags on first, you’ll get to see some hot ass all right, just wait.” He looked at his friend again, and then they both started laughing, “Take it off baybeeee, take it all off.” The pumping, bad house music faded and the lights dimmed. I returned my gaze back to the stage as the men up front began to howl, their voices now no longer even reminiscent of the basest human instincts. Their voices were bestial, something less than human. As they whistled and laughed, a slight figure, wearing what, had it a few more yards of fabric, would have passed as a dark blue evening gown. She sauntered up to the pole in the middle of the stage and smiled viciously at the men in the front of the room. Quickly deftly, she straddled the pole and then spun rapidly around it, the gown somehow falling, as if it were liquid, from her pale flesh. As she turned again to face the meager audience her eyes burned with false passion. But as I looked, I noticed the fatigue behind the facade of lust. As she tossed her long blond hair and arched her back, thus forcing her prominent breasts to protrude even further to the delight of the old leches, and my companions, I came to a sudden realization. I knew this girl.
I didn’t even remember her name, but she had been in some of my classes freshmen year. She had struck me as odd. She wore the makeup and the designer clothes that were so popular of the prettier college girls, but at the same time, her gaze always maintained that strange intensity, that seriousness. It lacked the bored, blank, emptiness of many of the girls in the class, and also the flirtatiousness possessed by the rest as they stole glances at the football players carrying on in the back. I had even been to her dorm room as we had been assigned to work on some project together. I remember that she had ignored my attempts at gentility, she was all business.
I returned my gaze to her as she twisted and writhed in mock ecstacy, her form now completely naked, a small pile of bills already formed before her pulsating figure like an offering to some dark goddess. For a moment our eyes met, and I saw a look of shocked recognition, but it only lasted for a moment, before it turned to a sneer of contempt. I quickly averted my eyes, as did she before sprawling onto the floor of the stage, beckoning to one of the drooling audience members. “See,” spoke Tom, “I told you we’d get to see a nice piece of ass.” “Did you hit that shit?” asked his friend. “Naw,” he said, “but you better believe I’m gonna.” They both laughed. “What about you? I bet you would like to fuck her,” said Tom as he turned to me. I remained silent. “Ha,” laughed his friend, “I bet he’s just a faggot.” They both laughed. The music had stopped and a cadre of scantilly clad girls suddenly appeared to refill the glasses of the customers. “We’re going to go across the street and get some forties, this place is too damn expensive,” said Tom. “Yeah, some fotaayys,” giggled his friend in horribly done ebonics. “Ok,” I said, “I’ll wait here.”
“Suit yourself,” said Tom.
I got up and walked to the bathroom. I went to the sink and washed my hands. Suddenly feeling excessively dirty, I splashed water on my face. It didn’t do much good. I still felt dirty. I exited the bathroom and was rounding the corner when I ran into the girl who had just danced on stage. “Hey,” I said. “Do you remember me, I think we were in the same English class or something.”
“Oh,” she replied, her words dull and cold.
“You know,” I said, “most girls get a part time job at the library or the mall.”
“Well,” she said, her words still cold, but now twinged with a dangerous sharpness, “some girls don’t have parents who buy them SUVs for their birthday, and don’t give them cash so they can spend it galavanting around strip bars.”
“Ouch,” I thought as she pushed past me.
I returned to my table in the bar. Another girl was strutting up on the stage illiciting another round of whoops and cat calls. She was beutiful, but at the same time lifeless, plastic, like a real-life Barbie doll. Her eyes seemed to be little more than painted glass. They seemed to lack any emotion whatsoever, neither lust nor contempt.
I waited for another 15 minutes for my companions but they never returned. I paid the waitress, both for my drinks and theirs, and then turned toward the exit. I was almost to the door when, overcome by sudden embarresment, I turned and walked back trhough the bar to the rear exit. I openned the heavy metal door and as the door swung open, I was struck both with the harshness of the frigid air and with the sounds of drunken laughter breaking the silence of the night. I turned to see Tom and his friend standing over a body crouched against the wall.
“Come on, yeah give it to me. Yeah, I saw the way you were looking at me in there. I know you want it.” Tom panted, pressing the shuddering figure up against the wall.
“Leave her alone, lets get out of here,” I shouted.
“Oh, come on, we’re just having some fun. Aren’t we baby?” he grunted.
“I said leave her alone,” I said more forcefully this time. I moved towards them. “Walk away,” I thought. “Just walk away.” I kept moving towards them.
“Oh, I’m sorry, how rude of me,” Tom said as his friend broke into a series of guffaws. “I didn’t offer you any.” More laughter. “Do you want a turn on her? Sorry that you’ll be getting sloppy seconds, but I saw her first.”
“Get the fuck away from her,” I shouted, my steps turned to a jog.
“See,” laughed Tom’s friend, “I told you he was a faggot.”
I reached the group, and grabbed Tom, trying to move his massive form from off the girl. “What’s the problem faggot? You got a problem with a couple of guys just having some fun?” spouted Tom’s friend, drenching me in saliva and tobacco juice.
I didn’t even respond. I pushed him to the ground and becan to kick him. My blows falling heavy against his ribs, his neck, his head.
The panting behind me had stopped I turned and saw, to my horror, the girl from my class. Her lips parted, as if to scream, but no sound came forth. Tom turned to me, and spoke, suddenly sober, “hey, I thought we were friends.” I tried to block the blows which came next. I think I might have gotten some punches in. We must have rolled around a bit, among the filth and refuse of the gutter. I realy don’r remember. All I know is that I eventually blacked out before waking here. Broken, naked in an alley with a stripper shivering beneath my overcoat.
I turned and started running, cutting through the back alleys of the town, behind the halls where I would have my classes the next morning, hoping to god that I wouldn’t be spotted by someone I knew, or worse, by the campus police. “Well,” I thought, the journalism building standing cold and resolute as I darted past it, “this night would make one hell of a story.” “Frat boy rapes stripper.” The inside scoop, the story to lift the veil of innocence from our eyes, to expose us to the dirty secrets of our boring little town, our boring little collegiate lives. Then again, I thought, it probably wouldn’t even make the back page. There is, after all, a big game this week and the administration is talking of making a zero tollerance alcohol policy in the dorms. No, I thought, no matter how much we wish, no matter how we desire, things never turn out the way that we expect.
WAR WITH THE EVIL POWER MASTER
“Scooby Snacks are tasty.”
Or that’s what I thougt I heard from the back of the room. What the fuck is that? Some kid acting like a damn five year old trying to make some drug reffrence in the worst impression voice I’ve ever heard. I roll my eyes to the back of my head and hope that maybe this time they’ll stick there giving me an excuse to get out of this prison. Or, at least I wouldn’t have to look at Miss Carleson or her short skirts and makeup flashing smiles at the male students. I think hers is the only class where the jocks sit in the front of the room.
Unfortunately, my eyes do not stick in their sockets so I instead turn my head back into my textbook. Textbook, ha! At least that’s what Miss Carleson things. Instead, I employ a trick that I’ve been using since third grade and hide a paperback novel between the tired textbook pages, against the heards, obscenities, and doodles that would make Larry Flynn blusg. It almost makes the period bearable. It doesn’t matter how much authority little miss evil power master in hot pants thinks she wields, she hasn’t mastered mind control yet!
It’s hard to focus on my book amidst the buzz of the broken florescent lights. The dull white light and the dull white waslls and row after row of dull yellow desks dull my senses. Help! My brain is being sucked out. She is the evil power master and this is her torture chamber. If I don’t crack from boredom, I will surely find a way to commit ritual suicide if I hear one more bad Scooby-Doo impression. I can’t help but giggle out loud. The thought of that stupid bitch screaming her head off as my bloody corpse, number 2 pencil portruding from my jugular, slumps onto the desk, red blood filling the grooves of “Sarah Loves Tom,” and “FUCK Y,” etched into its surface is too much for me to resist. I must have laughed too loud because I hear her footsteps. She descends on me like a polar bear on a baby harp seal.
“What have we here, Barret?” she cackles. “Do you think you’re too good to read the assignment like the rest of the class?”
“No,” I mumble, “I just prefer to read something that isn’t comprehensible by my 8 year old sister.”
“Well then,” she smiles, her voice dripping with sacharine sweetness, “you are welcome to leave, young lady, but might I remind you that you will miss today’s quiz and that will seriously endanger your chances of getting your precious A in this class.”
Damn! I close the book taking care to mark my page, and slip it into my bookbag. I would love to stamp out of the room, flashing an insolent smile at the evil power master and her minions, but the risk is too great. That’s okay though. There will be other battles, and I will be victorious in the end. Through all this, I find one thing is true, life is full of choices.
I have a certain distaste for the vegetables of my youth. Cauliflower, brocolli, brussle sprouts, all those cursed foodstuffs that my mother forced upon me still disgust me as an adult. Indeed, I think it’s not just a hated food that persists from childhood to adulthood but many other things. Think what you will of Freud, but I think he was onto something. Surely, the person I am now is defined by the experiences of my childhood. Just like a fine piece of marble under a sculpters hands, once the first chips are made, there is no going back.
I remember that summer well. It was just as our small town had become a bedroom community for the major metropolitan area an hour south of us. Our small hamlet had become a boomtown with new houses, appearing, as if from thin air, on a daily basis with their strange, exciting inhabitants following shortly after. It was not only the new houses that were filled with these strangers, but the established neighborhoods as well.
It was mid-july when her family moved in. I recall peering through the slits in my blinds as the U-haul truck pulled up to the curb and the family station wagon pulled to a halt in its wake. She was second to exit the car and she took my breath away. I was only ten at the time, so my thoughts had not yet slipped into the depravity of male adolescence, but hers was a beauty that transcended sexuality, and unfortunately the years. I remember as she played in her yard, long black hair flowing behind her, the tall green grass in stark contrast to her dark skin. That memory, that fleeting vision of innocence will haunt me until my dying day.
Over the course of the summer, we became fast friends. Our parents didn’t talk much. Her father, an engineer recently immigrating from India was a small, terse man in sharp contrast to my own father, a large good natured man who worked at a local factory. Still, I went to her house often, romping through the odd new world with all its bizarre sights and strange new smells. I would show her my world as well. We spent many a summer afternoon amongst the crude tree forts or hideouts constructed of tires, logs, and rusted out oil cans. We would sit in the shade of this crude childhood architecture and talk for hours, her of her apprehensions for the rapidly approaching school term, I of my plans for baseball season. I was enchanted. I hung onto her every word. We rambled through our magical world. Like Adam and Eve lost in our own paradise. But as was the case in the biblical tale, our paradise came to an end. One week before school started, her family was gone, the house sold, my love gone. All my life I’ve searched for that lost innocence. And that is why I am a pedophile.