Work In Progress

Dispatches from the Wasteland: Charleston, Chewed

Note: This the first installment in a serialized story I did back in the day on “The Sound and the Fury”. Since I composed my posts “live” in the Blogger application at that time, rather than composing in Microsoft Word like I do now, this is essentially a first draft. I yearned mightily to edit the hell out of it, but I only allowed myself to fix the glaring typos. This will allow you to see my writing without any polish, perhaps a naïve thing to do.

I never finished this serial, distracted by other things, but I did churn out 12 “chapters” before I stumbled. Your challenge, if you accept and decide to comment, is this: Should I resuscitate and continue? Or is this a door that should be quietly closed? Enjoy.

 

Charleston, Chewed – Part 1

 

Timestamp: Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, Butt Crack of Dawn.

The Deal: The humble beginnings of our adventurous journey to Charleston, SC

So, it had been decreed, by people at Delta Airlines who decree things, that our little party of four must arrive two hours before the plane departed, and that we must all check in at the same exact time or the world as we know it might come to an inconvenient end. We had no idea why this was so necessary, nor could we be certain that we wouldn’t be forced to hold hands whilst carrying out some type of aviation sacrifice to appease the god who came up with the concept of a boarding pass. But why take chances, right?

Thusly, two hours early we did descend onto the expansive property of DFW International, prepared to meet the fates, and praying that somebody somewhere knew how to make coffee around this place.

Of course, it wasn’t easy getting there at the scheduled time. There were a few complications, cumbersome roadblocks and hazards thrown our way by evil spirits still agitated over the shocking cancellation of All My Children. Firstly, there was the simple act of getting out of a bed almost before one got into it. I’m a night person. This means I stay up half the night, on a regular basis. It also means that a severe disruption in this schedule causes my sphincter to slam shut with such intensity that geologists are convinced that seismic activity is occurring and people better run.

But lo and behold, I reacted almost enthusiastically to the shrill, Gestapo-like alarm clock as it lacerated my ear drums at 3am. I calmly turned it off without hitting snooze, and efficiently arose from my comfy bed to begin my assigned duties. Two seconds later, some unknown creature starts banging on our bedroom door with the force of an enraged wildebeest that hasn’t successfully mated in several seasons.

This can’t be a good thing. If it’s the Apocalypse, I have a few things that need tending to, such as writing out a vengeance-resolving will, making a quick but final blog post, and hiding the porn. Then a voice rings out: “Are you guys UP yet!! We’ve got to get moving!”

Of course we’re up. How could we NOT be after the apparent crime scene on the other side of our slumber portal? The entire neighborhood is up. For several blocks. Off in the distance, we can hear a helicopter for one of the local news channels soar into the air, because something THAT loud has a real good chance of being the lead story on the next newscast.

Anyway, with so much excitement and implied violence whirling about, I practically throw myself in the shower, scrub things clean in a matter of seconds, hurl the last necessary remnants into my suitcase, thunder out of the house, shove said suitcase into my SUV, and then turn and wait for the others.

Crickets chirp.

Okay, maybe there have been some complications. I mosey back into the house, and discover that it is apparently very important that certain members of our traveling detail slather themselves in enough makeup that it will keep hundreds of makeup-makers employed into the next century. How humanitarian of them.

But really. You’re going to be trapped on two different planes for the next several hours. Do we really need to go to that much effort? Everything is going to be smashed and wrinkled within minutes after you’ve been shoved into a tube with a kaleidoscope of society, most of whom didn’t even bother to wear deodorant or underwear. Are there rumors of talent scouts for America’s Next Top Model being on our flights? I think not.

Then again, I’ve never worn full makeup (yes, I’ve played with lipstick at interesting social gatherings, who hasn’t, but that pales), so I’m not savvy about the joys of re-sculpting my entire image before I face the world or at least go fetch the morning paper.

Eventually, people and things were loaded into the car, and off we head to DFW International Airport. At the surely satanic hour of 4 o’clock in the morning. I must say that this particular drive-time is an interesting experience in the metroplex. We still have the never-say-die party warriors weaving about in little clumps of battered (wonder how that happened?) vehicles, trolling for an after-after-hours bar that might possibly have something, anything, maybe rubbing alcohol, still available for consumption.

Mixed in with the just-can’t-say-no caravans of drunken fools, we have the folks who are actually supposed to be up at this dark time of the morning, scurrying about in their bitter little cars, headed to their bitter little jobs that most people don’t even know exist. This batch of people apparently hates everybody, an extension of their dissatisfaction in life. They will do their best to cut you off, even though it’s a five-lane highway and it’s only them, you and an odd piece of litter in the middle lane, a questionable bit of refuse that may or may not be a tiara.

As we near the airport, there’s a brief discussion about being fiscally-responsible and parking in one of the far-distant remote parking areas where tolls are cheaper, probably because the lot is in a different time zone. Flip side is that you must then hoof it for decades to get to the actual terminals, dragging luggage that willfully increases in weight with every step. Within two seconds, I decide that I will happily pay the equivalent of a house payment just for the sheer joy of simply parking my car, marching two steps, and then checking my bag. Life’s too short for unnecessary walking in places that smell like concrete and boredom.

Finally, our gang of four is traveling en masse, wrangling our check-ins and carry-ons. We make our way to the Delta counter, where we have been told to arrive as a unit and be processed as such, because otherwise governments will fail. We’re actually a little excited, just to see what is so important about this process. Will we get special prizes for cooperating? Will someone be taking pictures? Will there be fruit juice served?

None of this happens.

Instead, a ticketing agent that really doesn’t grasp where lipstick should be applied simply says “Go punch on that automated check-in kiosk and you’re all set.” And then she points.

We are instantly suspicious. Why was it so important that we all be here together? What lies have they told us? Are we about to be taken against our will to places we don’t want to go? (Is that news helicopter still following us around? Because we might need them to take the photos that will soon be on the backs of milk cartons.)

So, Terry steps up to the magical kiosk, efficiently following the directions and punching a few buttons. Instantly, all of our boarding passes for this flight pop out, all of our boarding passes for the connecting flight pop out, a directive appears on the screen to hand 4 bags, any bags will do, to the fakely-smiling attendant now waving 4 of those adhesive strips they loop around the luggage handle. He grabs our tagged gear and throws it on a conveyor belt.

Nobody wants to see our ID. Nobody wants to ask us if we have weapons of mass destruction in our fetching designer luggage. Nobody even wants to know if we have a pulse. Just bag snatching, strip-adhesing and then somewhere, far off in a small, black-and-white town an angel gets its wings. Four times.

Really?

Well, that makes me feel completely safe. You?

But at least we’re checked in. We were ordered to be here at 5AM. And at 5:02, the deal is done. This feels like so many Saturday-night dates in college back in the day, where inexperienced freshmen really didn’t know what that they were doing, and the love-making was over before the first Human League song even finished playing.

Tiffany turns to me, and all she has to do is lightly twitch an eyebrow and I know exactly what she is thinking: “What the hell are we going to do for the next two hours?”

I’m thinking it won’t be anything fun. Just a guess.

I hear the faint sounds of the news helicopter fading off into the distance, any interest in the fate of our clan having instantly faded due to boredom, the dearth of photo-opportunities and a probable gang shootout in the shady parts of town where people pee on the sidewalk and nobody has a real last name.

We were on our own…

 

To Be Continued?

 

39 replies »

  1. Dear.GOD. The anxiety this culmination of ‘hurrry hurry HURRY are you ready YET, is enough to give me hives. Then again, when gazing at the Folly Beach Pier, with my toes esconced in sand, that anxiety seemed to melt….away…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Three days later they found us on said beach, weakly clutching a beverage container which once proffered a Hurricane Twister Double Vodka with Room. Can we do anything to help you, queried the Rescue Squad. Yes, we replied. Can you find someone who can fill this go-cup back up? Because we’re on a mission. Said Squad raced forth to do our bidding, and this is why we heart Charleston…

      Like

  2. *smells of concrete and boredom* – genius. I too love your style and I agree with the Gobbie one that there is a real air of Wodehouse in it. Dry. Very very dry air. Which is very very good to read. I also feel a little edge of Waugh in here. Who is one of MY all time favourites. All in all unedited becomes you. PS: disappointingly I am on my Mac now that WiFi has been reinstated in my life so I’m afraid my emoticon frenzy is halted for a while ….

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Goddammit, you start another sentence in a non blog literary format with “so” and I’m going to buy you some pink lacy top socks, a pair of white converses a short pink skirt and big ol Texas size wad of gum. YES continue. YES edit the snot out it. Start with so, eventually and finally because this is funny and unbloated and on track. Take any conversation with the audience out of it. You could be a Steinbeck here without a lot of effort if you’ll put the Valley Girl alter ego on the curb with “so” and tell us the story! Hell yeah!

    Liked by 2 people

    • What he said. Sans the starting a sentence with “so”. It’s a particular literary style..and I use it myself. So…go for it man. There is a world indeed of pithy writing. I need to dig out my dusty copies of Wodehouse. It’s been a while and perhaps that’s why my attitude has soured. Thanks for the rescue!!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Misconstrued on the internet. Go ahead and smother a good story with Valley Girl throwaway words. Bury your characters in follow me adverbs and make performance excuses in the guise of self deprecating commonality before the curtain ever goes up. When you decide to let one of your wonderful stories tell itself? So, um, uh, like you know…Hello?

          Liked by 1 person

    • Phil: So, what you’re saying is that in a draft piece that was structured as a correspondence with the reader I should take out any interaction with that reader? (You know I had to poke that comment with a stick, just for grins.) I realize what you’re saying, just as I realize I have some literary quirks that some would call bad habits. In any case, I hope YOU realize that you are actually challenging me to continue using “so” irresponsibly just for the chance of seeing you in a short pink skirt. With gum.

      Embeecee: Thanks for your support, as usual, but, more importantly, I just had a sudden inspiration that we might need a Wodehouse-like figure in “that thing we’re working on”. My mind is clicking…

      Liked by 1 person

      • All I can say is y’all need to go read some Wodehouse. The similarities here end at wonderful simile slinging. The guy was a comedian whose characters lived in a Disneyland of his own construct. Jane Austen on crack, a precursor to the dark absurdity of a Vonnegut, He was also marginally disciplined. But his characters told his stories. Where the audience interact needs to disappear is inside the story, you can ask for feedback all day long. here ya go, fake modern Wodehouse, I don’t think as good as yours, but it gets from A to B with the characters, gets a 1,000 hits each on at least three sites every time something pops, no internal explanations, absurd, short form modern J & W. https://vasaandypres.wordpress.com/category/a-mayfair-conundrum/

        However, an artistic caveat. You have more to say, if you’ll just say it.

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  4. I think you should keep it going… have to find out if the plane crashes…

    I always write my stuff in Word (or another word processor) before I upload it. Otherwise, bad things always seem to happen.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love starting sentences with ‘so’. … So, I want to read more of this story! I know of which you speak of the DFW airport, and we have to go through there every time we fly somewhere. Being stranded there during the blizzard a couple of years ago, that was really fun. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I use “so” all the time, since I often write just like I’m having a conversation with a friend. DFW is a crazy airport, right? All those terminals and gates and walking. But the next time you get stranded at DFW, just give me a call and I’ll come entertain you… 😉

      Like

      • That’s one reason I like to read your writing! It sounds like you are having a conversation, just like in your two books, which I really enjoyed reading. … DFW = crazy! Yes! Once they had us change gates umpteen times…oh, the walking seemed to never end. Hopefully, we’re never stranded again, but I’ll keep in mind you would be available for entertainment! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Writing in a conversational style is really my favorite way to go, although I do like experimenting with other forms. I just like the connection it creates, even it if might only be temporary. Now, your comment on reading my books rings a bell. Several months ago, possibly longer, I remember getting an email notification on my phone that someone had left a comment on one of my posts that began with something like “I just got your books and I’m enjoying them” but then I hit something I shouldn’t have and the email vanished forever. Whatever I did also caused the internal WordPress alert to also disappear, so I couldn’t figure out who had sent the comment or where the comment might be.

          It’s possible that this wasn’t you, and hopefully I did respond to your comment in a thankful manner. But if not, and your comment DID go unanswered, I apologize profusely and want to thank you now. It means the world to an indie writer when someone reads their books. It has always bothered me that I got a message like that and wasn’t able to respond. In either case, I hope our digital friendship has been as enjoyable and fun for you as it has been for me… 🙂

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          • Well, it could have been me that left the message. I’m pretty sure I mentioned I was enjoying reading your books. I can’t remember when, or if you responded, but don’t be worrying about it at all. Like I said, it may not even be my comment. I’ve done the same, accidentally deleting things, then not ever finding them again. It happens sometimes. … I hope you continue writing in whatever style you want, and I’ll look forward to reading any and all of it. I’m glad we can be friends here, too! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Yeah, I’m with the others: if it’s still in your heart and hard drive, I say, tally ho!
    Back to me: I have four stories currently simmering, one whose cast is made up entirely of house plants. Not sure what to make of that. Absurdity is one thing, but this may include aphids.
    Tally ho!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, I’ve still got seventy pages or so of this story buried in the archives. I’m not sure why I dropped it and didn’t look back, but it probably had something to do with five simultaneous blogs and a bit of burnout. Back to you: Finish the house plant story! I’m sure it will be fab and there will be at LEAST 27 points where I chuckle… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was just at DFW Monday. For literally 4 minutes. Our Spirit flight (I’m NEVER flying Spirit airlines again) landed at DFW and we needed to get to our connecting flight to MSP. There was another plan in our “parking spot” so by the time we got off the plane, we literally ran to the next gate to get on our flight as they were closing the doors. It was very Home Alone like. I can’t wait for your part 2. I hope your DFW experience was better than mine! lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ugh, short connection-times send me over the edge. I’m already stressed out enough with the flying angle (not a fan of planes), so it’s not like my blood pressure needs an additional workout by having to sprint my way across an entire county. As for DFW, I’ve been in that place a million times, especially when my job at Verizon required a lot of travelling. (I really should have my own gate by now, come to think of it. I should probably check into that.)

      Liked by 1 person

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