Originally, this was the final in-class writing assignment for my Creative Writing class: Write one scene using the following words: Money, ocean, planet, aggravate, grease, paddle, rooster, leer, gift, pillow, avocado, shoulder, wedge, planet, fortify. The first draft took about twenty minutes, and I polished this version with another twenty or so after I got home. Finally, I recently needed a story for a theater class I’m taking, so I revisited this one and added a little more polish to it. I think I actually kind of like this one. Tell me what you think in the comments!
Six Twenty Seven
“Six twenty seven.” Don thumbed through his wallet, counting what little money remained for food after buying his final bus ticket, the one that brought him here, to California from Kansas. This was the last leg of a three year journey that had taken him across continents in a quest to surf the waves of every ocean, on every coast it touched. He had exactly five dollars to his name, a pillow strapped to his back with a leather belt that had been a gift from his mother, and a simple digital camera, which hung from a strap on his left shoulder. From the corner of one eye he glanced toward the corner of the small building before him, where his surfboard leaned, its waxed and polished surface glinting in the evening sunlight as it rested comfortably on the warm, golden sand of the California coast.
“Six twenty seven. Please.” the cashier behind the counter of Mac and Dan’s Hamburger Stand said again, this time more insistently. Don counted the bills in his wallet once more, but they’d stubbornly refused to multiply since the previous count. He considered his options.
“What if we take off the avocado?” he asked, hoping that minor adjustment might lower the cost of the meal into his price range. He looked past the cashier, at the cook behind him. His gaze seemed lost in the bubbling grease of the meat-covered griddle while his hands, unwatched, lazily dismembered a wilted wedge of lettuce. The cashier sighed, cleared the transaction and started again. Don noticed a logo on the cashier’s shirt, a simple illustration of a rooster and one of those strange sets of toy wind-up teeth that automatically bite and vibrate along the floor. He smiled and considered that in all the states and countries he’d visited all across this little blue planet called Earth, he had never seen such a logo.
“What’s your shirt mean?” he asked, “I’ve never seen a rooster teeth logo before.” The cashier rolled his eyes and looked at Don—though it seemed more like a leer, Don thought—and half barked his reply.
“It’s not rooster teeth, it’s cock biter. They make machinima movies. Noob.” Apparently losing his place in the calculation of the pre-avocado cost of Don’s meal, the cashier banged his hand on the cash register and started over once more. Don smiled, hoping a little kindness might go a long way.
“Listen, I apologize. I’m new here, I didn’t mean to aggravate you, my friend. I’m just hoping to meet some new buds, fortify my stomach, paddle out a bit and catch a wave before calling it a night under the stars. I’m Don, if you’re interested.”
“Yeah, yeah, that’s nice, buddy, but I don’t give a flyin’ fuck. That’ll be four ninety nine.” The cashier put out his hand and glared. Don’s heart sank, then lifted; at least he’d have a meal. Without another word he paid the cashier and collected the small paper bag that contained his burger and fries. He stepped toward the corner where his surfboard stood, and glanced at his watch: Six twenty seven. He chuckled and breathed the crisp, salty air of the Pacific Ocean. He admired the gleaming body of his surfboard and smiled even wider, happiness swelling in his heart one last time before the long dormant aneurism in his brain burst, and he fell dead on the golden sand of the California coast.
I don’t know what it was I first noticed about her. Dressed plainly enough, she wore simple, form-fitting jeans and a flannel shirt with a green and black checkered pattern. Perhaps it was the clarity of her person, the unembellished form of a woman unconcerned with drab conformity. No, wait; it was nothing so high-concept as that, who am I kidding? I know what it was: her legs.
They were only revealed below the knees, her jeans rolled up just to that sensual spot that lives, too often undiscovered, just behind the bend. There was an elegance to their shape, a smoothness that wound all the way up to her ample, perfect hips. She wasn’t one of those stick-figure girls—no, she had meat on her bones, this one; just enough.
Her hair cascaded in an elegantly sculpted mess, framing her face on both sides with a reddish-brown color that perfectly lit up the hazel in her gleaming, thoughtful eyes. Her nose, a slender wedge that traced a path from her eyes to her lips—oh, her magnificent lips!—was a perfect piece of human sculpture, gracefully twitching and flaring in concert with her startlingly full lips.
Let me tell you about her lips. They wore expressions of every flavor, switching cleanly from one to the next in an orgy of fluidity. Motion and feeling danced together ‘twixt the succulent frame of her mouth, and I could not but admire. When first I saw, they sat pursed in rapt attention, her eyes narrowed in agreement as she listened intently to a short story being read by its author. At its conclusion, her lips shifted into a tender smile, beautiful and ardent, the soft pink flesh alight with gentle warmth, her eyes flashing with intelligence and passion as her expressive lips carved out a delighted and thoughtful critique from the living, pulsing air that surrounded her. To hell with the author and his damned story; this is a reading of her lips.
I ramble, I know. Whatever it was that happened then, I don’t know, not clearly. As a younger man I’d have thought, when she caught me noticing her and smiled, holding my gaze with that rare fierceness only a strong-willed woman can wield, that we’d made a connection, some subtext established, impassioned thoughts exchanged across the distance, carried by the power of a gaze.
But that’s a younger man’s hope, something I stopped chasing long ago. No, I’m content to admire those beautiful legs, eyes and lips from just across the way, and to consider the possibilities of a mind so sharp as hers. From here, everything looks just about perfect. How can it get any better than that?
I don’t know how I forgot about this story; I honestly thought I’d posted it. I wrote this on October 22nd, 2012 during a creative writing class. I’d love to hear what you think about it.
There was a smirk on the bastard’s face as he watched the woman across the table, reviewing what looked like some sort of contract, red pen in hand, occasionally ticking off an item here or making a note there. She wore glasses with a thick, black frame, tipped at the corners with diamonds and gold, though her eyes twinkled at least as brightly as the stones. Glasses tinked here and there in the background as other diners toasted their own affairs; golden-tinged silverware clinked rhythmically on plates of fine china, carving warm flesh into consumable portions while perfectly groomed violinists performed Holst’s “Mars” darkly in the background. Robbie Benz leaned close as he gracefully deposited a pair of wine glasses upon the table, neither the man nor the woman taking notice. With a perfectly rehearsed motion, he conveyed his serving tray to the nameless busboy assisting him, opened the bottle of champagne, and prepared to pour at the discretion of his guests.
He poured the lady’s glass first, filling it just halfway; the man, his eyes narrowed, stopped him with a single finger laid across the top of his own glass, a silent swish of his head from left to right indicating disinterest. The busboy, overeager, piped up in a feigned snobby accent, smiling as he said, “But please sir, surely you wouldn’t make the lady drink alone, for if there’s one thing less satisfying than a glass half full, it’s a glass never filled at all.” Robbie Benz closed his eyes and breathed out; the man turned to the busboy and replied only, “Speak when spoken to, boy. Keep your place and maybe you’ll keep your job.”
This piece emerged from a prompt in my creative writing class, which asked for a story about a man or woman who’s had an affair in a hotel room the night before, only to wake up beside their spouse. The action was to take place entirely inside the hotel room, with no significant back story.
I got through about 3/4 of the writing of this piece while in class and had a decent response to it during the sharing and workshopping session, so I decided I’d go ahead and finish it up. I did that just this evening, along with a little polishing on the first section from the night before, and all in all I’m fairly pleased with it. What I wanted to get at in this piece is the idea that people don’t (usually) cheat merely out of a desire for simple sex or orgasm, but because they have a deep need inside that isn’t being met in their home life. That’s not an indictment of blame, incidentally; sometimes it’s just a matter of how people’s lives evolve, and my take is that mutual understanding and meeting of needs, not blame, guilt and penance, is the more mature way of coping.
I hope you like it; please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think!
A Night in Memory
Carl awoke with a start, the unexpected warmth of sunlight playing across his eyes through the half-open blinds of the Prudence Hotel and Bakery. He breathed deeply and smiled, reveling in the warm scent of sex that still permeated the room, a remnant of a night spent entwined with the most passionate, intense woman he had ever met. Still afflicted by the hazy, early afternoon sunlight that danced across his face, he closed his eyes for a moment and remembered, with fondness and an emerging desire for round four, the beautiful, vivacious redhead he pictured sleeping quietly beside him. She was everything his wife had never been: adventurous and experimental, open to touch and be touched in ways and places the mother of his children never had, for hour after hour into the night. The way her body responded to his worship of her every sensual part made him feel, for the first time in years, like a powerful, competent lover, like the man he thought he’d forgotten how to be. This new woman, he thought, was a little piece of bliss.
So, this one needs some explanation. In my creative writing class we occasionally do various in-class exercises, and this story grew from one of these in about an hour. In this case, the exercise was to write scene with a character with “the opposite gender, as different from yourself as possible.” As I think you’ll see, this character’s gender is about as different from a typical male human as you’re likely to find here on Earth. As to the quality of the story, well…I guess that’s up to you to decide. I’ve given up judging my own work worthy, I just can’t see it objectively :P.
Out of Respect for the Pump
I tug upward on the collar of my blouse, my cheeks flushed and red with a strangely embarrassed discomfort at the long, salacious glances of the man seated across from me. I close the catch on my purse and press it down, nestled safely in my lap, and hope the mechanic will finish my oil change soon. The man watches every motion, and his hands, stained by some kind of black grease, leave black-smudge fingerprints on the cover of the Car and Driver magazine over which his eyes, furrowed with grey and black smattered caterpillars above, undress me over and again. On most days I’m proud of the body I have, an accomplishment I earn with countless hours sacrificed at the gym, but not today.
I shift in my seat and reach for a magazine, Popular Science, my blouse slipping down again as I do so. His eyes are down my shirt, reveling in the smooth flesh I work so hard to keep clean and smooth and healthy. I think of the dollars spent on moisturizers and personal trainers and form-adoring undergarments, of sweat and tears and aching muscles, and my heart sinks as his tongue slides across chapped lips and chipped teeth. I tug upward on the collar of my blouse again and wince as his gravelly voice catches in my ears: “Nice tat. Know whatcha want, right?”