Where the story has come so far…
In broad strokes, Mark (24) accidentally met Bridget (36) when he stopped to change her tire. They became attracted to each other. Mark is shy, conservative and practically a virgin. Bridget is a woman with a broken heart and consequently has chosen a life style of casual sex, keeping away from emotional involvement. She doesn’t want to get hurt or hurt the feelings of her partners. Consequently Bridget is trying to deescalate her relationship with Mark by opening it up to a group sex situation with Amy, a girl who lives on the fringe with tattoos, piercings and blue spiked hair. Amy is also psychic.
Bridget’s friends-with-benefits plan backfires when Mark gets snared in Amy’s lust and the young man switches his attraction from Bridget to the girl with blue hair. And he’s serious about her. Bridget now finds herself feeling jealous and depressed. Mark, on the other hand, is floating with excitement over Amy, because everyone falls for Amy. She is human heroin, and Mark is hooked. We now begin part eleven.
WHEN SHE SAYS GO AWAY – what does she really mean? [Part 11 of 12]
If you ever get the chance to walk through a paint factory, (and pray to God you never do) the first thing you’ll notice is a stench in the air; something so rank it flames your lungs as you take it in. The second thing you’ll notice, is that although breathing masks hang on the walls, no one is wearing them – not the forklift drivers, not the mixers, or the color testers, or lab techs, or the supervisors, or Mr. Dudley or Mark Sidwell as they tour this plant. Mr. Dudley, who’s nose died ten years ago, is explaining how paint is made and the colors are regulated. “Over there we have the mixing vats.” He points to ten round stainless steel tanks, each the size of a small cabin. “And over there, in those canisters, we keep the pigments, all color coded. You see that, son?”
“We use synthetics… calcined clays, blanc fixe, precipitated calcium carbonate and pyrogenic silicas.”
Again Mark nods, gazing at floor to ceiling shelves of huge metal boxes with forklifts selecting units, sliding them off the rack, and transporting them back to the mixing vats.
“Mr. Dudely continues. “Next to that we have our hiding pigments, fillers and binders. I’m going to give you a little book later that explains what that is.”
Mark nods. And now that he heard ‘book’ he knows he can tune out Mr. Dudley and tune in to his own thoughts about… Who else? Amy, Amy, Amy. Whoa! Flash. He doesn’t even know her last name! Does she have one? Who knows about girls like her. Maybe tattooed babes with blue hair go by, you know, only one name. ‘Cause who could forget them looking the way they do?
Mr. Dudley voice drifts back into Mark’s mind. “Binders are categorized according to drying. Here we use solvent evaporation, oxidative crosslinking, catalyzed/cross linked polymerization, and coalescence. You got that, son?”
The tour is over. Marks sits at a computer in the lab, a room about the size of an average bedroom, except it smells like wet paint on the inside a fifty-five gallon shipping drum. And like the rest of this factory, the walls are white, sans windows, or even a Snap-Lock Tools calendar with a bikini babe on the front.
Mark’s inputting his first stock orders, while an old tractor-feed printer, smudged with multi-colored finger prints and melted cigarette burns spits out hard copies of paint formulas. On the other side of the room, a wizened old fart, looking like ninety, slumps in a chipped metal chair, inspecting something like popsicle sticks dipped in cherry jam. He slides those things into a hole of a standing, four-foot tall black box, which Mark has recently learned is the color scanner. Red LED numbers tabulate the code, and the old man makes notes. He now knows to ‘bump’ the ratio slightly, a skill he learned sixty years ago when all paint was matched by eye, and a time when he still had lungs.
Two thoughts are zipping through Mark’s mind right now. One: if he stays in this job one more day, he’ll morph into an old-fart, emphysematous color-matcher. And two: not only does he NOT know Amy’s last name, but her phone number’s a mystery too.
He checks the time on his cell. It’s 12:48, twelve minutes to lunch, and breathable air.
Outside the factory front doors, facing cars baking in the sun, Mark waits for Bridget’s voice to come through his phone. He connects. “Mark,” he hears in his ear. “I can’t talk. I’m circulating.”
“I’m working in surgery.”
“Oh, okay. Can I have Amy’s number?”
“That wouldn’t be a good idea.”
“What? Why not?”
“It’s a bad idea to see Amy, or me again.”
“Wha’da ya mean?”
“You’re a good guy, Mark. And I’m sorry it had to end this way. But don’t call anymore.”
“It won’t work.”
“Yes it will!”
“I gotta go Mark. I’m sorry.” And she’s clicked off, leaving Mark standing like a stun-gunned garden gnome. Seconds pass. He redials, waits for a pick-up. He get’s Bridget’s voice mail. “I don’t understand!” he cries. “What did I do?” He sniffs, and sniffs again. “What did I do?”
Mark lies on his bed staring at the ceiling. It’s something he does a lot. This time his hands are tucked under his neck, because that’s where the hurt starts. It’s bleeding up to his brain and throbbing down to his feet. His toes have a head-ache. That’s how bad it is.
There’s a knock on the door. “You okay?” comes from the other side.
“Yeah…” which is Mark Speak for: ‘I’m not.’
Roque discreetly peeks in. “Hey Buddy, ya gotta eat something. I brought you dinner.”
Mark lifts his head. “What is it?”
“Thank you. Put it on the desk.”
Roque waddles into the room carrying a tray with a bowl and spoon on it. “She didn’t call back?” he asks.
Mark sighs. “No.”
Roque joins Mark on the bed. “Wanna watch some porn?”
Mark sits at his desk in the stinking white room, robotically typing paint orders onto his sticky computer keyboard. The old man approaches. “Hey kid. Lunch time.”
Mark keeps typing. The old man leaves.
Mark stands before a large paneled exterior entrance. He’s waiting…waiting. The door does not open. He reached for the button on the stucco wall and presses it, hearing a doorbell chime from inside. Again he waits. No footsteps approach him. No questions are asked about who he is and what he wants. The last time he stood here, a secret sex party was waiting for him inside. It was his encounter with Amy, and the other people who knew her. But no one’s greeting him now, and no one is answering questions about the girl he loves.
It’s Friday night, a dating night, the perfect night for depression at home, and watching Friends with Benefits on NBC. So appropriate, Mark thinks, as he watches this show from his bed. Ben and Sara are breaking up. And Aaron’s taking his relationship with Riley way more seriously than she is. Is this God pitching a lesson via TV?
“HOLY SHIT!” echoes from Roque’s room next door. In seconds, fat boy bounds in with an open PowerBook.
“Marko! You gotta see this!”
Roque hops onto the sheets next to his roommate. The springs complain, the frame creaks, but somehow the bed holds, as does Mark’s eyes, now fixed on Roque’s computer screen. “That’s gotta be her!” Roque squawks.
Mark starts to speak. Can’t. Why? Because eight inches from his nose, a video frame of amateur porn shows a naked nurse, with a naked guy, doing naked things, from the neck down.
“Where’d you get this?” Mark asks, his blood running cold.
“On YouPorn. It’s free stuff. People upload their shit there. Start it up again.”
Mark presses the ‘forward’ arrow on Roque’s screen, putting the video in motion. The boys watch, and watch, and watch some more until Mark freezes the action on the back of some bald guy’s head going down on a pierced crotch. “Oh… My… Gosh…” Mark mutters.
“What?” Roque grabs back his laptop. Looks closer at the screen.
“That’s Amy,” Mark mutters, his mind going numb.
“The girl with the tatts and metal?”
Mark nods, now staring into space.
“She’s your dream-chick?”
Mark’s eyes glaze over. “I cannot believe this.”
“Dude! You are so totally awesome! You’re bangin’ porn babes!”
“Didn’t know it.”
Roque shakes his head, eyes locked onto his computer, saliva drooling onto his hands. He turns back to Mark. “Fuck! You really DID do all that shit!”
Mark slides off the bed, goes to his desk, and grabs his keys. In seconds he’s gone.
“Hey!” Roque yells. “Where you goin’?”
To be continued…11/21/2011
Well, I don’t think we need to talk about what’s going in this segment so let’s zero in some writing stuff. How about a few examples of taking time to write description? From what I know about other writers, and especially myself, we scribes, on the first draft, just get the ideas down, even if they are the WRONG ideas, even if that first attempt is nothing more that getting the juices flowing. You gotta start somewhere, and sometimes that somewhere isn’t the place to start, but at least you’re writing, and through that process two things happen: first, you can sleep at night knowing you did SOMETHING at least. And two, through the process of writing junk, new ideas bubble up to the surface. Because, after all, the first draft is a warm-up, just like what musicians do before a big gig.
What I just said is writing 101, I know. But it kicks off the specifics I’m about to illustrate now. In the first paragraph, I wrote: “Mr. Dudley, who’s nose died ten years ago…” Now, do you think I came up with that on the first draft? No, I didn’t. I wish I were that brilliant but I’m not. I probably wrote something like, “Mr Dudley, who can’t smell anymore…” Lame, right? Sure, but it’s a PLACE HOLDER. It tells me the INTENTION of the idea, and later, I can take the time to figure out a more literary and interesting way of conveying that idea.
“We use synthetics… calcined clays, blanc fixe, precipitated calcium carbonate and pyrogenic silicas.” Do you think that sprung out of my psychic subconscious? Nope. What I probably wrote was: (Mr. Dudley explains how paints are made.) I then followed up that PLACE HOLDER with a phone call to a young man I know who worked in a paint factory and then I visited Wikipedia to gather all the details I do not understand, nor do you. But it doesn’t matter because what I was doing was giving the IMPRESSION of AUTHENTICITY without actually having it. The idea was more important than the facts. I did not fact check Wikipedia. It sounded convoluted enough to make me believe it, so I figured you would. If a paint guru reads it and corrects me, fine. But until then…
Marks sits at a computer in the lab, a room about the size of an average bedroom, except it smells like wet paint on the inside a fifty-five gallon shipping drum. My friend told me that industrial paint is shipped in 55 gallon shipping containers, and I thought, how can I use this info? Well, I decided that the smell factor would be a theme for the paint factory and I tried to use it where ever I could. And when I thought about the office and what it smelled like, I dug into my UNUSED INFORMATION BAG and pulled out the last tidbit yet to go into this story; the 55 gallon shipping drums. And that’s why I used it for description of the office.
And she’s clicked off, leaving Mark standing like a stun-gunned garden gnome. So what did I first write? Probably something like: leaving Mark standing like a statue. So lame. So I took some minutes to think about “statue” and ran through my thesaurus and garden gnome words. But Mark is shocked, right? How do I convey that? Well, what shocks? Among other things, stun guns shock. And hence, stun-gunned garden gnome.
Another example of new expressions is this one: This time his hands are tucked under his neck, because that’s where the hurt starts. It’s bleeding up to his brain and throbbing down to his toes. His toes have a head-ache. That’s how bad it is.
A headache in your toes, it’s not exactly coherent but it conveys an idea that is “sticky’ – you remember it because it’s new. That’s what you as writers what to achieve: sticky ideas, sticky prose, sticky stories, ones which stay in the minds of your readers.
Now it takes time and thought to polish, at least for me. So, when you read writing advice which stipulates: “Make sure your work is ready for publication, and don’t rush it,” those experts are talking about finessing your words like I’m doing with mine.
And now to the content question: Mark has been rejected by Bridget and discovered she and Amy are shooting home made porn movies. Does anyone have an idea how this story is going to end? I’ve got one last segment to do it.