Tuesday / Wednesday Night's Writing - The Diner / The Aftermath 3/9 '16
Well crap. Looks like I didn't quite make last night's post before midnight.
Note: I will edit this post Wednesday evening in order to add that night's work to this.
Note II: I have added an excerpt below Tuesday's stuff. Waaaaay down below.
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Tuesday's book work. Went a bit over my limit and hit almost 1400 words. Used WriteOrDie. Going to have to turn off the sounds in the future. Those seagull sounds will drive me mental if I listen to them for more than a half hour stint.
This is just a rough, and it's a little scene from the book. I've started to write the scenes up in somewhat random order. Kinda a "whatever I'm in the mood to write" thing. Eventually I'm going to have to come up with a story arc, but for right now, this is something to keep me writing daily.
In the book, Patch is going to meet an outlaw biker. He's the Sargeant at Arms for his club, and he's going to be a big influence on the young werewolf. Of course, he's going to die terribly. This scene is intended to be their first meeting.
As a side note: When I'm writing about "Danny", I'm thinking of an old biker buddy "Denny" that I haven't seen in a long time. Denny, however, was not an outlaw (quite the opposite in fact) but a young me kinda saw him like Danny seems to think Patch sees him.
Coffee isn't too bad. Especially for this pit. I can't help but think about Frank as I stare into the murky depths of the cup. Looking up, I see all the chrome and mirrors that is typical of a place like this - and strip clubs. Why is that? What else do diners and strip clubs have in common?
Frank screwed the pooch. Again. Every time I think he's got his shit straightened out, he manages to find a way to prove me wrong. This time he might just manage to pull the club down with him. I can't let that happen. I'm not really sure what exactly I should do about it, but I can't let the club go down. If there's one requirement of my job, that's it.
There's a mirror above the window where the cooks hand the meals out to the waitresses. It gives me a view of all the booths behind me. There's a layer of nicotine on it, but it's clear enough to see all the kids in the booths. It's about the only reason I don't mind having my back to the door. I crush out the end of my smoke, take a sip, and see who's here tonight.
There are only a few folks other than me here. It's late, but not quite bar rush yet. There's a couple in the back corner sitting together on the same side of the booth. So cute it makes me want to chuck. There's an old man sitting a bit further down the counter than me. There's that kid with the eye patch sitting by himself in a booth huddled over a cup of joe. Pretty sure I've seen him here before. That eye patch sticks out. Anyway - he's sitting in the booth adjacent to some nerdy kid.
Lastly, there's the nerdy kid. He's getting harassed by some punk rockers - they hover over him like vultures. It's like something out of a bad movie. They poke and jeer. It's so cliche that even I'm tempted to do something about it, but no one does. That is until Eye Patch does.
First I see him look up. That slight motion was enough to draw my attention to that part of the mirror. The look in his good eye? Death. It catches me off guard, honestly. He can't be more than... 16? I half expect him to stand up and pull a blade.
The punkers don't notice it until he slaps his table. He doesn't make a racket - doesn't spill his coffee - he makes just barely enough noise to draw their attention. The old man down the counter from me doesn't turn around. The couple is completely clueless of course.
They look over at him and I hear their tone shift immediately. He doesn't move an inch. He doesn't blink. They notice. He's said nothing, but his threat couldn't be more clear if he had written it in neon letters. I wonder if that's on purpose. Is he giving them the ability to back out without losing face? No one else is aware of what's happening. Hell, I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't already been looking over at them.
Whether he's doing it on purpose, or not, they take him up on the offer of an escape route. They get in one last jibe at their victim and move further down to another booth - towards the romantic duo, who quickly come up for air and start looking nervous despite the tough guys clearly having lost interest in being tough any more tonight.
My gaze shifts back to Eye Patch. He's looking me directly in the eyes by way of the mirror. He knows I saw the whole thing. Pretty sure I see the world's slightest nod to me in acknowledgement. The set of balls on this kid!
The nerdy kid doesn't take long to request a box for what's left of his meal and then makes his way to cash out and head off into the night. He figures he dodged a bullet. He has no idea that you don't have to worry too much when the bigger monster is on your side.
I light another smoke, take another sip of my coffee, and look in the mirror again. Eye Patch is staring into his cup again with his hands cupped around the brim as if he's trying to store up all the heat he can for the night to come. I can't tell if he's homeless, or if his look is some kind of rebellious thing. Based on the way he is glued to his cup of coffee, I would say it's the former.
I clear my throat while looking in the mirror and he looks up as if I'd said his name. Not eager, but attentive. I gesture with my head that he should have a seat next to me. He cocks an eyebrow, but gets up and moves to the counter.
"That was... interesting." I say, once he's settled in, still looking at him in the mirror rather than turn to face him.
He makes some kind guttural noise but just keeps staring into his coffee. I see. He's going to keep up the tough guy thing, even if his hands are already giving him away. He's looking into his cup, but his hands are fidgeting a bit. He's nervous. I know what I look like. It's a look that goes with riding outlaw. Hell, our prospects are scary to most 'normal' folks. By the time they get their colors? We look like the devil himself. It's been so long since I got my colors, I can hardly remember the day. Still, he did get up and come over.
"You scared of me kid?" I ask. I keep my tone more or less level, but I do put a little bite to it.
He shifts in his chair, but tries like hell to keep his cool. "Should I be?"
"Nah. Not unless you do something I don't like." I nod the waitress over.
"Yeah Danny? You ready for more joe?" she throws the kid a sideways look and has a hard time keeping the sneer from her face. So she knows him. Some kind of history there. I nod to her and she steps over to the coffee machine to grab the pot.
"Hitting the head. I'll be right back." the kid tells me - as if to say "I'm not leaving because I'm scared, just gotta piss, you know?"
I notice he throws a glance towards the punks while he gets up. They're too absorbed in their own conversation to notice.
As she refills my cup, I look up at the waitress. "What's with Eye Patch, Jess?"
She huffs. "Not sure. He comes in sometimes, only ever buys a cup of coffee. Always uses spare change to pay for it. Never tips." The sneer in her tone is palpable.
"Homeless?" I ask.
The look on her face says that she doesn't know, but hadn't really considered it. "Not sure. He seems... too healthy for that."
I nod as he comes around the corner.
He sits back down and resumes his staring contest with the cup.
"Think I'm going to grab a bite Jess." I say before she gets too far away.
She takes my order then gives me a look and glances sideways at the kid. She's asking if she should ask him. I nod.
"Anything for you hon?" Jess should be an actress. If I hadn't heard all her prior derision, I would never have known she disliked the kid.
"Nah. Thanks." he says flatly. There's even a little pain there. He's hungry, I would bet anything on it.
"Get something kid. My treat." I say.
He turns his head and eyes me suspiciously with his one good eye. He takes a few seconds to consider something.
When it looks like Jess is about to walk away, I say simply "Consider it your reward for standing up for the nerd."
"Two over light, home fries, and whole wheat." he says without hesitation, then he resumes staring into his mug. Christ - is he reading the future in that thing? He still seems nervous, though I couldn't say why I think that.
We sit for a bit, just drinking our coffees until the food comes. Calling the food 'good' might be a stretch. It's greasy, and it's hot.
That's good enough.
(ETA: Here's Wednesday's excerpt. I don't want to add the whole thing because, frankly, I don't like tonight's work. I'm tired, my brain is in a fog, and I just have a feeling it's not... good. So far I've been fairly happy, but I still don't have the story arc figured out. I described it to Karen tonight by saying: "It's like I have boxes and boxes of Christmas Tree ornaments and no tree to hang them on." Seems about right.)
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From the scene:
I cross the street and head down the alley. About half way down the alley’s length, I see the dumpster for the chinese place with the dick for an owner. I push the dumpster under the fire escape. The wheels beneath the big metal thing scream, but it moves, and before long, I shimmy up the side of the dumpster, stretch, and I’m able to reach the bottom rung of the fire escape.
A few minutes more, and I’m on the roof looking across at our building.
There’s no movement at all. Still as a tomb. Which, I guess, it is.
It’s cold as shit tonight. I’ve got a sweatjacket and a flannel coat on top of that, and it’s not enough. The air is damn, and it feels greasy. Every hair on my body feels like it’s standing straight up.
I catch myself pacing back and forth across the roof and wonder how long I’ve been doing so. Five minutes? Three hours?
What the fuck happened?!
I’ve got to get my head screwed back on. Got to calm down and figure this out. I take several long, deep breaths. I think of my friends again, and I gag. There’s nothing to throw up, of course, so it passes fairly quickly.
More pacing and more deep breaths. My friends are dead and I need to figure out why and what happened. I need to… do something.
I go through the mental images I have of the room. My friends all dead. The Diablos. What were they doing there? And who the hell was that other guy? He was wearing doctor’s scrubs. In our abandoned warehouse. Up on the fourth floor. The bikers being there was weird, but a doctor? That make no sense.
I’ve got to go back. I don’t want to, but I can’t think of any other way to find out what happened. It has to have been at least a couple of hours, and no sign of the cops. I have no way of knowing if anyone heard anything, but I’m guessing not. Four floors up in an abandoned building which isn’t attached to its neighbors. And of course, no one in this neighborhood wants to hear anything.
I descend the fire escape and every footstep sounds like it’s making enough noise to wake the dead. I try keep quite, and the harder I try, the louder everything seems to my ears. I damn near break my own neck climbing down onto the dumpster. Everything is cold and wet.
The steps have never felt harder to climb. I only got here about six months ago, but in that time, I’ve brought home several things, including a small reclining chair and carried it up the same steps, but tonight it feels like my entire body is made of lead. I do not want to go back into that room.
I do anyway.
Bwah-ha-ha ... I love it.
Also, I like that Patch doesn't tip, because a) it gives him room to grow as a person and in his relationship w/this waitress or all diner waitresses, b) it makes me dislike him a little, which makes him more interesting.
I realize that he's probably not tipping because he's starving, but the waitress's assessment of his health belies that a little, which is again, interesting.
I liked the strip club thing myself. Came up with it on the fly no less.
Don't want to spoil anything for you, but Patch isn't tipping because he's homeless and has no money. He IS a werewolf (though he doesn't know it) so he stays a bit more healthy looking (yay for miraculous super power regeneration).
But here's the real deal: I REALLY want to focus on showing Patch's change in personality over time. So many books/characters don't really change. Sure, the hero gets more powerful, but they seem to be pretty self actualized in the first book/story/whatever. There are just tweaks over time as the author gets better at telling that character's story.
Me? I'm a very different dude than when I was a teen. I want Patch to change too. Of course there's the whole thing with the word itself - change.
Here, we find the teen-aged Patch a sort of shy (staring into his cup), nervous (and probably even scared of the biker who is being nice to him), and defending others against bullies as he sees the world in black and white. By the time he's a grown man? He'll be bold enough to unnerve people with his stare, he will fear nothing, and he will become a bully himself, and not have the capability to see black or white, but only shades of grey.
He won't go from one end of that spectrum to the other in this one book, but I want to give him a starting point that makes the transformation a bit more clear.
This guy, Scott Hawkins, he wrote The Library at Mount Char, which I just read and which may be one of my favorite books. Really. The book is just unique and compelling and violent and mythological (you'd LOVE it) and basically dude just kept throwing his writing spaghetti at the wall until the book came together, then he edited the hell out of it and now here it is, here in the world, and it is SO good.
All of which is to say: 1. meandering and rewriting - perfectly reasonable. 2. Read The Library at Mount Char (you can get it as an audio book, I don't know how much it costs, but you will love Erwin ... and Michael ... and the lions. A lot.
I don't mind the idea of rewrites, and I expect some slogging. I just wish my brain would hurry up and piece together the story arc. I can pick apart the details and just WRITE once that's the case, but what I do NOT want to do is write a bunch of scenes that get left on the editing room floor.
Cleaned up/changed around? Sure. Completely dropped? Not so much.
I think you're a really good writer.
And now I'm craving eggs/toast/etc.