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 isn’t all that short, much less “Damn Short,” but seeing as I’ve been neglecting this site for just over a year now, it’s high time I went ahead and put something up. This story was inspired by a scenario last year, when I was fortunate enough to be interviewed for a possible student position at the prestigious UCLA school of film. I didn’t get in, unfortunately, but the experience of the interview–which, by the way, was pretty much nothing like anyone who explained the process to me said it would be like–inspired this story. I’d originally planned to submit it along with an all new application for the 2012 school year, but owing to various circumstances including a change of requirements for admission, that clearly wasn’t going to happen. So instead I’m regrouping, planning to apply again for the 2013 school year, and working toward some further study that I hope will help improve my writing. Practice, practice, practice, as they say.
Insight or Something Less
Robert’s head swam through the murky haze of half-consciousness, eyes bleary and watering as a harsh light burned someplace just out of comprehension’s reach. His heart struck his rib cage with the thundering rhythm of some tribal drummer, wailing furiously against some veiled threat, some outside force he couldn’t see clearly. He squinted and tried to focus, straining against the rubber-like bounce of his neck, starting briefly as an image, a silhouette began to form just out of reach: three heads behind what seemed to be a table.
“What’s the rest of the story?” a voice asked, followed by another. “Tell us what happens next, Alex. What happens next?” Robert’s senses flared to life, aware but afraid; the bright lights and hydra-like triple man warbled in his eyesight and finally began to focus. “Where was I?” he asked, his voice trembling as he struggled to remember, to think of the details he should have known but which were lost in a moment of intellectual paralysis. So close to where I want to be, he thought, how do I get there?
So, in my college pursuits, one of my classes is Introduction to Screenwriting. As an exercise in this class, I was assigned the task of writing a short scene in which two people at a cafe have some kind of expositional dialog. At the same time, while preparing for Diversity Day, which was sponsored by the student government (I’m a member,) I learned that there was a need for some skits to be written highlighting the issue of racism. There were already a couple of skits written by other folks, of course, but there were two complaints discussed in one of our planning meetings: First, that the existing skits were a bit…provocative in their language, and second, that both entailed white students attacking minority students, which is, of course, not how things always roll.
Well, it occurred to me that perhaps i could combine these projects, and moreover, that I might be able to assemble something that would be a complete short story wherein not only is the perpetrator of the racist act not a caucasian student, but the racism involved isn’t even meant in a harsh or hurtful way; it’s simply a matter of culture and traditional values clashing with the modern world. The following story, written more or less in Screenplay format (I’ve made some modifications to make it easier to read in this medium) using CeltX, was probably a little too subdued to justify being performed live on a campus (indeed, it wasn’t,) but is nevertheless, I think, an interesting short story.
A Question of Culture
A WHITE MAN and an ASIAN WOMAN walk together,
laughing and chatting casually. They appear very
comfortable together and seem to be enjoying each
other’s company a great deal. They are coworkers
at a Computer Services consulting company.
Boy was that guy funny in the meeting today. What in the world made him think that server would work online without a network card?
I don’t know, sometimes people at this company are so silly! The look on his face when you explained it to him was so funny, though, you almost made me laugh out loud!
Was I rude, do you think?
No, not at all, I thought you were very polite. You’re always polite…and sweet!
Well, you make it easy to be sweet. You’re so smart and funny all the time!
The two sit down at a table, still smiling and
happy. A waiter approaches.
There was a tiny snail (or so he felt inside), who climbed along the garden wall in silence every day. Without fail there came along an angry boy each day, bitter and irate for reasons the snail could only guess. Each day the boy was just the same: he would pluck the tiny snail from the wall and toss him to the ground with a laugh and a sneer. And each morning for a long time, the snail slowly crawled back up the wall once more in hopes that when the new day rose he would reach the sunlight that only reached the highest parts of that wall.
As time wore on the little snail grew more weary as the frustration of never quite reaching the light of day began to weigh upon him. Every day the angry boy would return, his tongue all aflame with bitter words, and the little snail would find himself hurled once again to the ground so far below, where he would land with a painful thud. But one day, something changed in the world and the little snail could no longer bring himself to try.
When the angry boy returned to taunt the little snail, his face contorted in a strange fury when he saw that the snail had not begun to crawl up the wall again. Instead he had stayed just where the boy had thrown him down the day before. The angry boy cursed and spat, and very nearly crushed the little snail with his gigantic shoe, but for some unknown reason he hesitated and put his foot back on the ground. “You’re not even worth it” said the angry boy, and with a terrifying face he spat upon the little snail where he lay.
The little snail did not move, but stared ever up that wall at the sunlight so high above. He longed to feel its warmth upon his shell, but his heart sank and he said to himself, “I can never reach it, for I am not able to overcome the obstacles which beset me”. And for several days he remained exactly where he lay, his heart growing ever more sorrowful as each day slipped away into another night. For a few days the angry boy would come again and curse the little snail, but soon he seemed to lose interest and did not return for a long time.
When he became hungry the little snail would slink across the dirt and soil to eat sadly from the lowest leaves on the plants, even though they were caked in filth and did not taste as good as his favorite leaves just a little higher. Sometimes he would look mournfully up at those leaves, but he did not try to reach them any longer; “I can never reach them” he said, “for I am not able to reach so very far”. And though the little snail survived each day, his heart was filled with sadness.
‘Frigerator’s door snapped forcefully out of my hand, closing quickly, the small electronic lock clicking with a loud ‘snick!’ "I have been talking with Scales, and it appears that you are 6.3 oz overweight." Said ‘Frigerator, authoritatively. "Scale reports that you have become quite the fat ass, and no food will be prescribed to you until you lose that excess lard." Microwave hummed agreeably in the background. "I have also taken the liberty to speak with Car, Bike and Cupboard, and we are all unanimous in this." Continued Fridge. "Go for a walk, tubby!" Toaster chimed in cheerfully. Sighing, I stepped outside. Front Door locked solidly with a ‘thunk!’ of finality. Gawddam internet has made my life hell. I’m building a time machine and going back to fix it.