Monday, August 25, 2014

The New Plan

I’m supposed to be writing a Christmas play.  Actually, it’s supposed to be done already.  I didn’t think it was going to be a big project, a dozen pages or so and I already had it pretty much figured out from when I was writing one last year.

Turns out that I was way off.  My idea didn’t work when I started writing.  Maybe it’s because Falling Star was too fresh and they are too different.  Maybe it was a bad idea.  I tried a different idea.  Still no dice.  Then a third.  And still nothing that worked.  Scarry.  Is it that my standards for a first draft are off?  Am I too critical of the idea and it was actually good?  Am I actually facing writer’s block?  I have to confess I never thought it was real.

I was thinking I might just let it slide.  You know, “pretend” that I was too busy.  Which is a crock, of course, because writing is about the only thing that I consistently have time for thanks to the reality of a fairly long commute and the inability to retire yet.  Besides, that’s unprofessional and against my nature.  Last night I had a conversation with a young woman who rendered an outstanding flute performance of my favorite hymn and she asked about the play.  I confessed that I was blocked.  She made a joke that jolted my thinking and released a torrent of inspiration.  I am hopeful that this will work and I can have a workable draft by the end of the week.

Either way, it inspired today’s fiction that was originally going to be about flatware, another idea that likely wouldn’t have gotten very far.

The New Plan
by Jon Stark
August, 2014; 475 words

It was the perfect day to be somewhere else.  Gus was tired of chucking rocks.  The summer had drawn on just a tad too long.  School wasn’t exactly what any of them wanted next, but change – any change – would be better than the status quo.

“You know we never came up with a name,” said Roy.  He was the only one of the three that was standing, the sun slightly in his eyes so that he squinted in a manner suggesting a person with below average intellect.

“That’s because all of your ideas are lame.”  That was Stan.  The heat and boredom had sharpened his sarcasm to the point that Xacto blades seemed dull by comparison.

Roy wasn’t dissuaded from the topic.  “How about Renegades, Rebels, and Rogues.”  Gus didn’t bother to look up.

Stan replied, “Or Lameboy and his two ex-friends.”  That got a chuckle from Gus.

“The summer’s almost over, we’re out of time.  Next year we’ll be graduated and out in the world and it will be too late.”  Roy’s voice sort of squeaked at the end.

“We could go to the movies.”  Stan.  Always wanting to go to the movies.  Even though they’d already seen everything.

“We’ve already seen everything,” said Gus.  “Besides, I don’t feel like walking downtown.”

“I’ve got a transit card,” said Roy.  “But I don’t feel like the movies.”

“What do you want to do, then?” asked Stan.

“I don’t know.  What do you feel like doing?” said Roy.

“Don’t be coy.”  Stan stood up and kicked at the gravel on the side of the street.  “I guess we could just ride around.”

Gus shook his head.  He’d had a bad experience two summers ago riding into town.   They’d picked up a homeless woman, wrapped in some sort of quilt despite the heat, and she smelled like Stan’s feet.  Worse, actually.  It was awful.  His mother had said that’s what the corpses smelled like in Iraq.  Gus had spewed violently and nobody could even smell that.

In the distance they could see an approaching bus.  “Now or never,” said Roy.  Stan shook his head.  So dramatic.  But he walked toward the stop.

“I wonder where it goes,” said Stan.

“Lafayette,” muttered Gus.  “Says so, right on it.”

“I’ve never been all the way down to Lafayette,” said Roy.

“Me neither,” said Stan.  “Let’s do it.”

Gus shook his head.  The bus pulled up.  He didn’t move.  Stan and Roy stood at the stop.  The doors opened.  Roy got on, handed over the pass.  Stan got on, waited.  Gus didn’t move.  “Come on, Gus,” said Stan.

Gus shook his head.  “Not happening.”

The bus driver cleared his throat.  Stan said, “We’re going to the end of the line.”

Gus held his ground.  “You need a new plan, Stan.  I’m not hopping on the bus.”

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