Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Life Is A Highway" (pt 7)

As I mentioned in the close of my last post about my W.i.P., I was going to gut my short story Golden Texas Tea and rewrite it as a ghost story, in the first and third POV.

Well, things went along swimmingly as the words simply came pouring out of me and onto the computer. I had gotten about 16 pages written but once again, I started hitting a dead spot in my writing. I was at the point where Alex (formerly Azalea) was fretting about telling the children that she was going on a trip, when I got stuck on how to get over this particular point.

No matter what I tried, it didn't come out right. While I was trying to work that problem out (two very unsuccessful days as it turned out), I started thinking about the secondary plot, namely the two angels and the area known as Limbo. The more I thought about it, the more I didn't like it. A week ago (April 6th), I decided to gut the secondary story and start it from scratch.

I do want to show you what I originally wrote for the prologue of this story. Instead of keeping what you're about to read, I decided to make Limbo a government agency housed in an office building and have the lead character arrive by bus. I still plan on using both the first and third POV with the story, but I'm still undecided about having children in the story.

Here now for your reading pleasure (four pages worth) is version one of the prologue for A Lascivious Limbo.
“I swear Tom, you are the strangest golfer I’ve ever come across up here. How come you don’t play like everyone else does?

“Well Hank, I’ve always enjoyed a challenge, and playing golf like a real person is the most challenging fun that an angel can have.”
“I suppose your right. Still, doesn’t it bother you that no one else besides me, wants to play golf with you?”
“Not really. As you know, I’ve always marched to a different beat up here. I guess that’s why they didn’t put me with the others. Is it my turn to tee off, or is it yours?”
“Mine I think. Say how long before you get your next assignment?”
“I’m not sure. All I know is that they told me I should be at the ready today. Whoever it is, they must have been something special down there, because they only call on me…” Tom didn’t get a chance to finish his thought as his beeper started going off and literally jumped out his pocket.
When he bent down to retrieve it, it continued jumping down the golf course. After each leap, it left behind a small two inch by two inch blackened spot. Hank had come over to see what was going on and saw the blackened trail that the beeper had left.

Shaking his head, he said, “I think this one is gonna be a handful for you Tom. I haven’t seen one of the beepers do that,” and he pulled out a telescope to watch the beeper go down the Slide, “since I got here about two hundred years ago.”
“You may be right Hank, you may be right. Did the beeper go down what I thought I saw it go down?”
“Oh dear.”

Just then, his cell phone rang. Checking out the text message, he said, “Hank, you better stick around.”
“Are you sure? It’s not like you to ask for help.”
“It wasn’t my idea, believe me. Boss Man says for you to tag along. What Boss Man wants, Boss Man gets.”
Hank was genuinely puzzled by the fact that Boss Man wanted him to stick around. After all, Tom is the best at what he does. Why would he want me to help Tom? A voice quickly interrupted his thought. “Yours is not to question why. Yours is to simply do first, then when the time is right, you can question why.”
“Yes sir!” said Hank, who finally experienced what only other doubting Thomas’s had.
“You questioned Boss Man before you were allowed to, didn’t you?” said Tom, who had been there and done that for the past three hundred years.
Sheepishly, Hank just nodded. Tom noticed the look of sadness on Hank’s face, and said, “Could you please cut him some slack? He’s just a newbie and didn’t know any better. Thanks.”

Not waiting for an answer, Tom went back to reading the text message. When he finished, he turned off the phone and sat down on a nearby bench. Crossing his arms, he then assumed the position and waited.
Hank was about to ask what was going on, but Tom’s voice boomed into his head. “Stand behind me and be very quiet please.”
“Not so loud, please. My hearing is just fine.”

Hank moved over to where Tom was sitting and took up a position just to the right of Tom, crossed his hands and waited. While waiting, he briefly tilted his head at Tom and asked, “Any idea on what we’re waiting for, or at the very least, how I should act?”
“This person is a special case, and needs to be handled with kid gloves. So just work off of what I say and do. Okay?”
“I think I can do that. I’m sure I picked up a pointer or two from you throughout our time together.”
“That’s the spirit.”
Tom grew silent as he waited for whatever it was that was going to be dropping off the latest visitor to the Land of the Misplaced.
"Ouch!” said Tom, as an unseen hand slapped him on top of his bald head.
Hank held his laughter in. Many a time he was on the receiving end of Boss Man’s lack of humor, and it was refreshing to see someone else get it for a change.
Tom was about to respond to Hank’s laughter, when a loud horn broke through the quiet afternoon and interrupted his response. Quickly following the piercing sound of the horn was the belching of a nineteen fifties style jalopy.
It approached Tom and Hank in a slow, stuttering crawl. Black smoke poured out of the exhaust and Hank could see sitting in the grungy interior, a very good looking, yet completely shell shocked woman.
Tom waited until the cab came to a stop in front of him, before getting up to talk to the driver. Before taking one step forward, the car exploded in a cacophony of sound. The car backfired a couple of times, smoke poured out from under the hood, and all four doors blew off the hinges.

Tom approached the driver’s side and knocked on the window. The driver rolled the window down, and Tom was surprised to see his former partner sitting behind the wheel, driving the Jalopy from Hell.
“Jackie? What are you doing here?”
“Thomas. Always good to see you.” Jackie took out a folder and handed it to Tom. “I’m making a rerouted special delivery.”
Tom briefly flipped through the folder, before asking, “Rerouted special delivery?”
"Yes. A deal was worked out between our respective Boss Mans.”
Tom waved Hank over and said, “Help the young lady out of the car and have her take a seat on the bench. Be careful with her, as she is a prized commodity.”
While Hank helped the young lady out of the car and to the bench, Tom asked Jackie if there were anybody in particular he needed in his jalopy.
Jackie thought for a moment and said, “Not yet. Besides, like I said, this was worked out by other parties. When the time comes, I’ll be back to collect what needs to be collected. Take care of that young lady. She is a very special one indeed.”
Jackie did a slow u-turn and disappeared down the same hole that Tom’s beeper did. Tom briefly wondered about what Jackie would be collecting, but decided that since Boss Man worked out the details, it really wasn’t his place to question the why, only to execute the do. And the do was a shell shocked thirty-something sitting on the bench.

Tom spent the next five minutes reading the young lady’s file. When he’d finished, he waved Hank over. Hank left a couple of reformed imps in charge and walked over to where Tom was.
Tom spoke first. “Okay, here’s the deal. Apparently there was a major malfunction on earth. It wasn’t her turn to go now, it was her husband’s. Her husband was supposed to take the plunge into the Sulfur Springs, not her.”
“Wow,” said Hank, who never experienced the one thing that guaranteed terminated employment.
“Wow indeed,” said Tom, who glanced over at the young lady to make sure she was still in that current state vapor lock. “In any event, since she’s here and he’s not, we have to use her to get him there.”
“There? As in…?” Hank let the sentence hang, because to complete it would be sacrilege.
“Yes. And to answer your other questions, I have full carte blanche to do whatever it takes to rectify this situation. So the first order of business will be that if we need to communicate, we use telepathy. Agreed?”
“Agreed.” said Hank warily.
“So, let’s take a look at what we got to work with, shall we?”

Tom and Hank walked over to where their charge was sitting at, and shoed away the imps that were babysitting her. Tom saw that a small ember on top of her head was about to reignite, so he licked his fingers and put it out.
Puzzled, he knelt down to get a closer look. After studying her for a few minutes, he asked Hank if she was already like this when she arrived, or was this the end result of the brief stop down below.
“Already like this. Got barbecued after a drunk driver made a connection.”
“I see. Well then, let’s see what brought Ms…”
“Mrs. Alex Carter.”
“Mrs. Alex Carter to us in the first place. I think it’ll be quite a while before she’ll be able to tell us herself, so one of us will have to tell the story until she gets up to speed. Do you want to do it, or shall I?”
Hank thought about it for a moment. He hadn’t probed anyone’s memory yet and it was the one thing that was preventing him from moving up to the next level. The added bonus would be jumping into the story and telling it until the young lady was back on her feet.
“I’ll do it. I need the experience in order to move up. Would be so kind as to let her know, so that she doesn’t freak out while it’s happening?”
“No probs.”

While Hank got ready to probe Alex’s short/long term memory, Tom knelt down in front her and began to talk to her in a very soothing tone.
“Alex? Alex? I know right now you’re in a state of shock and body paralysis, so all you need to do for now is listen. My name is Tom. The hands that you’re about to feel on your head belong to my partner Hank. Both of us are from Internal Affairs and we’re assigned to investigate why you’re here to begin with.”
Alex tried to speak, but Tom put a finger to her lips to quiet her.
“All of your questions will be answered in due time. For now, I need you to relax and let my partner do all the work. You’re going to be hit with a major case of nausea in a few moments, but that will pass once you get used to the tingling sensation. You’ll also experience later on a feeling of déjà vu, as once you get back on your feet, you’ll be going through, and narrating the entire incident that brought you to us in the first place.”
Alex eyes went wide from fright, as the memory of the car hitting her suddenly came roaring back. Tom saw the look of absolute terror on her face and yelled at Hank for messing up.
“Be careful of what strings you pull. You have to pull them in order. Didn’t anyone tell you that?”
“Sorry, I’ve only done this as a computer stimulation. I’ll fix it right now.”
Tom turned his attention back Alex, who was about pass out. He got hold of her face and forced her eyes open. Staring into them, he was able to reassure her that everything would be alright. He then looked at Hank, who gave him a thumb’s up. Smiling, he said to Alex, “Okay, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride, so hang on tight.”
(c)2009 by GBMJr. All rights reserved.


  1. I really like this part of the story. The dialogue moved along so well. Very interesting premise. Angels setting things straight. I'm curious to know if you considered sharing Alex's thoughts as she undergoes this process. As I read, I find myself wondering about what fractured images or thoughts race through her mind as these angels hover. You've got me hooked. I would love to read on.

  2. That was the original intent when I'd first started doing the rewrite. But I soon found myself wanting to do too many breakins with the angels and Alex. I think I would have gotten lost while concentrating on that particular plotline.

    Plus, I was describing Limbo as being something rather pleasurable and relaxing. I wanted Limbo to be more like a bureaucratic nightmare than a pleasurable experience.

    I replaced the angels with two people: one who is somewhat sympathetic to Alex's plight and the go-to guy when a delicate matter needs to be handled. The other is the bureaucrat who isn't totally heartless in what he's doing. He knows what needs to be done, and he does it in a way that allows just a smattering of wiggle room.

  3. Nicely imaginative. If you're struggling with combining elements, have you tried writing out the elements separately first, then looking for ways to combine them? Maybe that wouldn't work in this case.

  4. Thanks.

    I don't think I've tried doing that. I did do a brief outline on what I wanted to change in the story (matter of fact, did two outlines for it).

    My fear is that if I tried one distinct plot from beginning to end, I would have problems weaving that into the main story.

    I think my problem in this instance, was that the secondary plot line was starting to overwhelm the main plot line. I got to thinking more about how to work the secondary in, and thus I was inadvertantly messing up the main flow of the story.

  5. Your imagination just never ceases to amaze me, Georgie!!

  6. Thanks.

    It has its moments.

  7. "Tom saw that a small ember on top of her had was about to reignite"

    Think you meant "head" not "had"

    Compliments of your grammar checker. Nice stuff.

  8. By golly, I did make a mistake.

    Thanks for catching that.

    Usually I catch most of my grammar errors while I type, but this one I apparently missed.

    I shall fix it right now.


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