Author Topic: First Paragraph  (Read 20344 times)

Offline 510bhan

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #75 on: November 27, 2010, 12:18:26 AM »
I've reprised a bit of the previous post (with some changes) and added a bit: 


     Albert looked from Booker to the test result paperwork for a long time without saying anything. Then he slowly hawked-up a nasty, green lump from his throat and, as if savoring the effect, spit it into the results tally. He crumpled the sheet into a small wad, threw it on the floor and ground it first under one heel, then the other. His mother simply sat there, too stunned to speak.

     “Oh, I’m sorry,” Albert mocked as he picked up the test score and threw it on Booker’s desk, “Did you need that?”  He sauntered out of the office and just beyond the door he looked back. “You fucking moron,” he added.

     Principal Booker promptly suspended him for a month. Albert shrugged and kept walking until he had left the building. His mother, head bowed, silently shuffled after him. He was a school hero by three o’clock, but it didn’t last long.

     Even after scoring in the 99th percentile on the SAT’s, putting him in the top one percent in the country, he still began to spend even more time with a crowd very much like him, frustrated and angry. He seemed certain no matter how well he did the world was rigged in favor of everyone else. In his case, I’m not so sure it wasn’t. But his piss-in-your-eye attitude turned everyone off. 

     Eventually, most of the school shunned him, just as the neighborhood kids had done long ago. His circle of what could only loosely be called ‘friends’ was a mere handful of the worst losers in town.  I guess I was one of the last of the so-called ‘regular’ kids to have anything to do with him, and that was only because I lived across the street and saw him nearly every day. I never hung around with him or anything. I was just decent to him and he sometimes used me as a sounding board.

     Just before the summer break a story started making the rounds saying Albert had decked Terry Meister, the most feared ‘greaser’ in the school. The rumor said he hit him so hard Albert broke his hand. It also said T-Meister’s infamous solitary upper tooth cut Albert enough to require stitches.

     Terry had been taken to the hospital having suffered a severe beating and Albert’s hand was in a cast, a ragged wound across his knuckles.  It was probably Meister’s old man using Terry for a punching bag again, but where Albert’s part in the rumor actually came from didn’t matter. T-Meister never returned to school and everyone believed the story. Albert did nothing to stop the rumors. Some say he even started them.

     “The king is dead, long live the king!” he smirked.

     I knew better because I had been there. Albert had been reaching for little Samantha Riddle’s kitten, which was stuck in a tree. I was spotting for him.  He was stretched out about as far as he could reach when the thin branch he was standing on snapped. Albert fell and his hand had a rather abrupt meeting with the top rail of the cyclone fence.

     “Oh, shit, Paulie!” he yelled, “It’s broke!”

     “Are ya sure?” I yelled back, scrambling to get him up. One look at the second bend between his knuckles and wrist confirmed it. We rushed into his house, looking for help. Carl was already passed out on the sofa and his mother, frantic, couldn’t find the car keys. She finally took Albert to the hospital emergency room in a taxi.  The next day, when the rumors started, Albert came looking for me.

more to come

Nice revision - using 'mocked' has made that bit I queried earlier much better, The bit I've scratched...the score in SATs tell his position in the country so I don't think the explanation is necessary for your readers. Love the extra bit about Albert's lie and the rumour.

Will look at the other parts later. Lot of work done Mr Herron, kudos! ;)

Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #76 on: November 27, 2010, 12:20:46 AM »
Nice revision - using 'mocked' has made that bit I queried earlier much better, The bit I've scratched...the score in SATs tell his position in the country so I don't think the explanation is necessary for your readers. Love the extra bit about Albert's lie and the rumour.

Will look at the other parts later. Lot of work done Mr Herron, kudos! ;)

Thanks.  Truly.  I like the edit.  That whole part was bothering me, too.
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Offline 510bhan

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #77 on: November 27, 2010, 11:57:07 AM »
and more


     “On your mother’s grave,” he spat at me through clenched teeth, as he grabbed my shoulders and spun me around.

     “What the hell you talking about?”

     “I got it decking T-Meister,” Albert hissed. He held his cast up in front of my nose and shook it. “Swear it, Paulie!” 

     “Oh, that,” I said. “Sure.”

     He grabbed the front of my shirt. “Say it.”

     “C’mon, Albert ….”

     “Say it, dammit!”  He had me pinned against my locker.

     “All right, all right. I say it.” I was pissed, but knew better than to start anything.

     “Say what, Paulie?  I don’t hear nuthin’.”

     “You got it decking T-Meister,” I said, flashing him a look, “and I won’t tell anyone how you really broke it.”  I pushed him away with a soft shove. “I swear it on my Mama’s grave. You happy now?”

     “You tell anyone, Paulie,” Albert whispered, “anyone.” He made a cutting motion across his throat with his good hand. “You’ll wish your Mama never bothered to have you.”

     “I’m shakin’.”

     “You think I’m kiddin’?” There were sparks in Albert’s eyes.

     “I swore, didn’t I?” Like I said, I didn’t push him much.

     “Just makin’ sure…” Albert said quietly.[maybe a comma here instead?] “…got a rep to consider.” He walked away whistling, with a smile on his face. He held his cast out in front of him like a beacon.

     I made much more effort to avoid him after that, but we lived so close together[sounds like they're in the same house, maybe so near to each other] it was hard to keep from seeing him occasionally no matter how hard I tried.

     One Sunday afternoon, about mid-July, I saw him kneeling on the side drive of the house next door to him, Mrs. Anchor’s house. He was near the rear gate. Never married, Mrs. Anchor had been retired for years. She spent most of her summer days tending her flowers. Every summer her yard had the most beautiful flowers in Brickdale. They were something even the kids looked forward to each season, even if we never said so. [Maybe change the second 'even' to 'though', or drop the fist one?]

     Every other Sunday, Mrs. Anchor dutifully caught the morning bus to visit her brother’s family across town, helping her sister-in-law with her garden. This happened to be one of those Sundays. I knew she was gone, but I saw Albert digging with his bare hands, making a hole in her best flower bed. 

     I liked Mrs. Anchor, so I walked back to find out what he was doing. As I drew near, I could see the clean white tracks of tears parting the dirt on his face. Startled, he jumped when he heard me approach and tried wiping away his tears. The muddy streaks he created made him look so funny I almost laughed out loud.

     Until I saw the bird.

     For years, Albert had a small, blue parrot. He called it Captain. His real father had given it to him. He took meticulous care of it. Whatever he was like with people, Albert had loved that little bird.

     Captain now lay in the earthen cradle Albert dug, neatly wrapped in a sheet of leftover Christmas paper. The paper’s wrinkles had been carefully smoothed and a loosely-tied red ribbon held it all together. Although most of the package was hidden by the flowers, I could still see blue tail feathers coming out one end of the wrapping.

     Albert looked at me, unblinking, and I saw pain clearly reflected in his eyes.  “Carl…” he whispered. He never finished the sentence, but the implication was clear.

     Carl had killed the bird.

     “I’m sorry, Albert,” was all I could think of to say. “I really am.”  Years after ignoring me when we first met, Albert extended his hand. “Thanks, Paulie,” he said.  We touched fingers for a few seconds. Then he knelt to finish burying his little friend. Sensing the audience was already over, I quietly walked away.



more to come  



And a new dimension to Albert - terrific. Some lovely descriptions and not 'over told'. Still want to read more. :-*

Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #78 on: November 27, 2010, 12:04:12 PM »
And a new dimension to Albert - terrific. Some lovely descriptions and not 'over told'. Still want to read more. :-*
Yeah, thought about that comma. I was thinking it wasn't enough of a pause, but I didn't want the pause to be two separate sentences either. I'll revisit that one in the final draft, too.  Thanks.   :-*
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Offline 510bhan

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #79 on: November 27, 2010, 12:05:51 PM »
and the last bit for tonight ....


     Albert grew increasingly difficult to be around. His outbursts and run-ins were becoming notorious, and our circle of friends had become quite different.  Like everyone else, I eventually found coping with Albert too much to do. I avoided him the rest of that summer and we hardly saw each other.

     The last time I spoke to him was early in the fall of our senior year, when he surprised me by knocking at my front door just after dark.

     “Can you come out, Paulie?” He shuffled nervously on the doorstep.

     “Guess so,” I said, trying to ignore my father, who sat on the sofa, scowling over his newspaper. “What’s up?”

     “Nuthin,” he shrugged, not bothered by my father’s glare. “I just, ya know, wanted to talk for a minute.”

     “That I can do.” 

     “Don’t be late, Paul,” my father said curtly as I went out the door. He was not happy to see Albert there. None of the adults ever were.

     “He won’t be,” Albert said quietly before I could respond. We both heard my father’s snort and the crisp snapping of his paper as the door closed.

     “He always such a tight ass?” Albert’s mouth curled upward slightly, almost a smile.

     “He’s OK,” I said, “you just bring out the best in him.”

     “Yeah, I got a way about me.”  We went all the way to the corner in silence.

     “You see the game?” he finally asked, his shoulders shrugging as if he was searching for something to say.

     “Baseball?  Did they play?”

     “Guess ya didn’t,” he said and dropped the subject. Albert remained silent and we kept walking. Each time I thought he was about to say something else, he hesitated.

     I finally stopped walking for a moment.  “You really bring me out here to talk about a baseball game?”  He stood with his hands in his pockets and didn’t answer. “Look,” I told him, “it’s your nickel.  But I … well, I just gotta get back soon or my old man is gonna expect long explanations.”

     “Yeah, I know,” Albert said.  Still, we went completely around the block without him saying another word.

     Finally, as we passed near Albert’s house again I could hear Carl inside, shouting and cursing. His hoarse croaks were immediately followed by the crash of something hitting the wall.

     “Oh, no, Albert!”  I moaned, “Your Ma!”

     “It’s OK,” he said, wincing. “He’s by himself.”

     “Drunk?”

     “Paulie, we been in the neighborhood a long time. Whaddya think?”

     “Sounds drunk to me.”

     “Give the man a gold cigar,” Albert grimaced, “’cause he done say the magic word.”  He hunched his shoulders and continued to walk.  “Sorry to put you through this,” he finally said. I could tell the apology was real. “I just don’t want to be alone in there with him.”

     “Don’t blame you,” I said, and we were silent again.

     “Paulie, you ever hate anybody?” he finally asked.

     “Truly hate?”

     “Yeah. Spill their guts, truly.”

     “No, I guess not. Not really”

     “I do,” he said, looking at the house. “Every damn day of my life.”

     “That’s rough.”

     “You don’t know the half of it.”  Something else hit the wall inside and shattered.

     “Guess I don’t,” I said.

     The sounds finally subsided and then quit. We found ourselves leaning on the fence in the open alley at the back of Albert’s yard, tossing pebbles at the garage.  “I thought he’d never pass out,” Albert said. He stopped tossing pebbles and just stared at me for a long time. He didn’t even seem to blink.

     “What?” I shrugged. His gaze made me uncomfortable.

     “Just wonderin’,” he said. “Why does everyone in the neighborhood think I’m always the cause of any trouble that happens?”  I thought he was joking, and said so.  “No jive, man,” Albert said. “Just yesterday the Gilsson’s gave Ma all sorts of crap ‘bout something I wasn’t even around to do!  Can ya believe it?”

     Albert tossed the remaining pebbles onto the garage roof. They made a loud racket as they fell into the rain gutter. He looked at me as if expecting a response, but I said nothing.

     “I mean it, Paulie. Why is it everyone starts pointing at me when shit happens? Why do all those dried-up pukes think I’m the cause of every bit of trouble around here?”

     Without thinking, I suggested, “Maybe because you are?”

     Albert stopped talking. His glare was ferocious. I’d been kidding, even though I knew there was a lot of truth in what I’d said. Too late, I realized Albert had been very serious. A large cinder suddenly flew in my direction. It smashed against a metal trash can and exploded into a huge shower of grit and dust. The top of the can went flying and Mrs. Angelini’s little dog started barking furiously.

     I looked at the mark the cinder made on the can. To this day, I don’t think Albert meant to hit me, but you never knew with him. He was so close it would have been hard to miss me. Yet it would have been easy to miss on purpose, too.

     With the metal still ringing, Albert stomped toward his house, paused, and looked back at me. “I bring a lotta shit down on myself,” he said angrily, “but I don’t deserve all I get.”  He took another step and looked back once more.  “And I certainly didn’t deserve that,” he said. “Not from you, Paulie.” I remember his eyes looking almost haunted. “Not from you, too.”

     “Albert …” I started. I wanted desperately to apologize.

     “Go straight to hell with the rest of ‘em!”  The door slammed as he went inside.

     “Albert,” I pleaded. “Wait … I’m sorry!” 

     I’ll never know if he heard me. I never spoke to him again. My father was transferred that fall and our family moved out of the neighborhood. The day we moved, I went to say goodbye. I knew Albert was home, but he wouldn’t come to the door.

     “Just tell him I’m leaving,” I told a bleary-eyed Carl, “and I’ll try to come back to see him.”  Only I never did.


more tomorrow ...  :)

Aw! Now you've turned the reader round nicely to caring about Albert. Good move, excellent contrast between the two households and the respective fathers and although most of this is dialogue you have painted in a terrific backdrop for the scene. Smiles from me again. :D :) :) :) :)

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #80 on: November 27, 2010, 12:08:58 PM »
Can you post your version, Herron. I don't know which one to look at lmao

Offline 510bhan

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #81 on: November 27, 2010, 12:13:09 PM »
He put 3 more up yesterday - I've only placed them here as quote boxes but anything I've done to them should be clear from the different colour I've used. Go back a couple of pages for the original originals. :) Haven't tampered with them.

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #82 on: November 27, 2010, 12:16:33 PM »
You look just like Sio, herron :P - thank you, Sio

lol I can't do all 3 cause how can writing change that fast :(

but I'll pick one :)


Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #83 on: November 27, 2010, 12:21:12 PM »
I posted three separate sections of the story yesterday (and I'll have more today). Sio has been kind enought to comment on all three, and I've made some responses.

As to fast changes ... you've never seen me edit my own stuff. I've had to train myself to get it down first, then edit!  LOL!  ;D
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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #84 on: November 27, 2010, 12:23:19 PM »
lol herron, edit/change two different things :) but hell I'm just slow at it, has taken me years :(

okay, I will pick a piece. I like the writing I've seen from you anyway, so any or all, its good with me


Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #85 on: November 27, 2010, 12:24:30 PM »
lol herron, edit/change two different things :) but hell I'm just slow at it, has taken me years :(

okay, I will pick a piece. I like the writing I've seen from you anyway, so any or all, its good with me


Thanks.  :)
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Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #86 on: November 27, 2010, 12:24:49 PM »
comment
I made much more effort to avoid him after that, but we lived so close together [sounds like they're in the same house, maybe so near to each other] it was hard to keep from seeing him occasionally no matter how hard I tried.

[correction]
I made much more effort to avoid him after that, but he lived across the street and it was hard to keep from seeing him occasionally, no matter how hard I tried.


better?
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Offline 510bhan

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #87 on: November 27, 2010, 12:34:01 PM »
Yes - and it has your voice...much more 'neighborly'..see the way I went for US spelling there?

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #88 on: November 27, 2010, 12:49:37 PM »
Hello

ETA - oh I did the ones starting with

think I'll get out of word games for a while.  Tongue


More of "Albert."



I'm just going over the phrasings if you don't mind.

Do you need to say 'I suppose we all saw it coming.' i mean if you all saw it coming why suppose it, or why not just mention the event
 

- since this is a continuation of a events building it can be assumed that everyone saw it coming without 'telling' I mean why draw the buildup so well if you are just going to tell me before it happens.

you wrote:

...mouthy and obnoxious to all the adults. I once overheard one of our neighbors, Mr. Dixon, tell my father, “Albert’s the kind of kid who likes to keep everyone about an axe-handle away.”  All things considered, I guess that summed him up rather well.  

I think this distracts away from the story too much, the mention of adults opinions and his opinions of them. this story seems more to be about the younger generation, so think you should stay with their thoughts, kind of a balanced by his peers then.

you wrote:

...Maybe it was because I was as big as he was and didn’t take any shit from him, but I didn’t push him about things either. It went on this way, one day blending pretty much the same into the next...

-since you don't really know, why guess, I mean I can see the use of size as a reason, but why give the reader that only choice. I liked the last line of this section, about kids being resilient, it shows it better, that kids can take a lot, even from friends.

I remember 'the toothpick man' - since you drew him in so nice, the use of 'Carl' threw me off, wouldn't he stick to addressing him in his mind as just 'the toothpick man' not 'Carl' I can see him voicing that name vice the toothpick, but in his mind it felt off.

In the para about the circus comparison and fight, check out the amount of 'there/their'  it caught my eye, but could be just me.

was the mother gone for a while? the woman's scream seemed like something unusual.

I have found a good way to switch the dialogue tags to not always be 'he said, she said' at the end, have a few at the start, that way the emotions come before the words and so they are felt better.

***

an interesting story, nicely wrote. my differences in opinions are just that.

enjoyed

Offline herron

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Re: First Paragraph
« Reply #89 on: November 27, 2010, 05:24:45 PM »
more --->

     I later heard Albert dropped out of school. He had gotten into trouble again. Bad enough to land him in court, where the judge gave him a rather unpleasant choice: “Join some branch of the service, or do time.”  So, the kid with the highest aptitude scores anyone ever saw never finished high school.

     I went on to college. Albert joined the Marines. Unfortunately, it was 1968. He was in his second tour of duty in ‘Nam in ’69 when he was killed. He was only nineteen.

     Maybe I remember all this so well because he was the first of my peers to die. There would be others, of course. A lot of them died in Vietnam. Others died later from a variety of causes. As you get older you learn, that’s life, but those are other stories. Albert was the first.

     He was laid out at McDermitt’s. I didn’t want to go. I don’t suppose anyone ever really does. When I arrived I went into the wrong room at first, peeking into an almost empty parlor where an ancient figure was nestled silently in deep white satin, awaiting eternity. I murmured an apology, said some quick condolences, and left. 

     I found Albert in the next large room on the left. He was in a white metal casket. The top half of it was sealed with glass. An American flag was folded into a neat triangle at the foot and the whole room was surrounded by more flowers than I had ever seen at one time. I had forgotten to send any and was suddenly embarrassed, hoping no one had noticed.

     His auburn hair was short and neat. Laid out in his dress blue uniform he looked properly distinguished, if slightly bloated. It just didn’t look like Albert. There had always been such life in him. Looking at the body behind the glass I thought, “This isn’t Albert.” I didn’t think it was possible he could have changed so much in such a short time. Perhaps this was a mistake, after all.

     I remember feeling oddly detached. There was a small degree of sadness, perhaps, but none of the strong emotion I had expected. I kept wondering if it was right I should feel so little.  I couldn’t help but wonder if it made me a terrible person.

     I briefly spoke to his half-sister. Janice had become very pretty. She was wearing a clingy black mini-dress, one of the really short ones that showed off most of her legs. Appropriate for the time, it’s strangely out of place now in my memory. She was with a man she introduced as her husband, but whose name I can no longer recall. A long, awkward silence followed, until the two of them moved to speak to someone else.

     Somber greetings were exchanged with the rest of Albert’s family, most of whom I really didn’t know. His half-brother wouldn’t even look at me. Holding my hand, his mother thanked me, over and over, for coming. “He always spoke of you as such a friend, Paul.” There were tears welling in the corner of her eyes. “Such a good friend.”

     Mrs. P had always been a rather attractive, if sad-looking, woman. I was amazed at how old she suddenly seemed to be. Carl looked old, too, but in a different way. He shook my hand and looked mildly surprised. He smelled of bourbon but seemed composed. I’m not certain he even knew who I was.

     One of several young, uniformed Marines introduced himself and told me how Albert died. He went on and on about it, but after a few sentences I was only half listening. All I really heard was Albert had died face down in the mud, in a place I couldn’t even pronounce.

     “…the Silver Star. Posthumously, of course.”

     “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

     “I was one of his buddies,” the young Marine repeated quietly. “Same platoon.” He lowered his eyes and took a ragged breath. I noticed an ugly scar that ran under his chin and disappeared beneath his collar.  “VC surprised us. I was shot up pretty bad. Couldn’t move.”  He noisily cleared his throat. “Could barely breathe.” The jagged scar above his stiff uniform collar still looked red and inflamed.  “I wouldn’t be here if Albert hadn’t brought me out.”

     His voice quavered. “I was the last one. He had already pulled out three guys. Had the crap shot out of him, but he still came back…for me.”  His eyes were liquid pools ringed by a red tide. “He could hardly hold himself up, but he came back.” He looked at me solemnly and said, “He was a good Marine…and a damned good friend.”

     I almost felt accused.

     “They gave him the Silver Star?” I repeated lamely.

     “Yes, sir. They did.” It felt odd having someone my own age call me sir.



more to come
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