I find it frustrating that I ended up a day behind on the Writing 101 schooling but life happens and priorities shift. To write something 100% adverb free is the theme of day 8 (Yesterday, for those keeping track) and it makes me debate if that’s the best way to go. I understand they’re trying to make us think outside the box and already I’ve learned a lot about my writing and what needs improvement (Dialog for one…) but when it comes to adverbs, it seems to me that it’s a choice between an adverb or a simile.
“The Rain fell softly against the tin roof” or “The rain fell like silk curtain” … or something… okay not my best reference but I don’t have a tin roof, I live in an apartment. Gimme a break.
That being said. Any time I’ve been skeptical of Writing 101, I’ve come out on the other end of writing with the stubborn side of me quashed and embarrassed that I doubted something I had no idea about.
The Diva in the Dive
She walked through the doors and into the putrid cloud of smoke that hung just under the ceiling of the dive bar. Over dressed and under prepared she coughed and waved as much smoke away from her face as she could. The few people seated around the door grinned toothy, yellow grins while they eyed up the fresh meat to enter their den. The walls were painted black and the already dim lighting fought to add any atmosphere that the denizens hadn’t already added through fights, scattered remains of broken chairs and – Is that a blood stain? she questioned with squinted eyes. Attention was shifting to the pretty doe eyed doll in the doorway like a ripple in a pond. Avoiding eye contact she fixed her long hair over her shoulder, a pang of nervous anxiety ran through her as more people looked up from their drinks. More people turned around in their seats to see what big deal was distracting everyone. Eyes were lighting up somewhere between curiosity and mild amusement but she refused to let the biker cliche’s of tattoo’s and leather to scare her away. She was on a mission and nothing was going to deter her from her big debut on the stage.
Calm in disposition she straightened her pale yellow sundress and took a deep breath. Shoulders straight, chest forward, chin up and eyes focused on your goal. She re-assured herself before walking hard toward the bar, the heels of her flats clapping up the sound of defiance against the cement floor as she stepped over broken glass without ever looking down. Heads turned as she glided past the dark garbed patrons. My first audience. The white poka-dots on her dress flowed with each step she took, creating a hypnotic effect to people who still held interest in the tall and leggy fawn of a girl. By now most of the drinkers had gone back to their drink and the talkers back to their talk, keeping only their peripheral vision open out of habit more than anything else.
Ceiling fans whirred and wobbled in the thick air above the bar and stage, keeping it free from the bulk of the smoke, much to her delight. As she entered the clean-er air she took a deep breath and slapped her hand down on the carved wood topped and brass railed bar to get the attention of the old man cleaning his glasses. His back to entirety of the bar left him oblivious to her entrance and the attention it garnered, his boney shoulders jerked with the clap of her hand on the bar top. The old man turned a slow turn and looked up, wide eyed, before squinting in a forward learn to get a better look at the girl on the other side.
“Put yer damn glasses on you old koot!” the man shouted beside her before slapping her on the shoulder “Jerry’s a bit old darlin’ not used to seeing pretty young things around these parts” the man was a giant and his hand as big as her head, she shunted forward with his slap, taking in an unintentional gasp of his alcohol stained breath.
“Thaaaaanks” she trailed off in a sardonic tone
“Hey! Keep your damn meat hooks off her ya freak! Before you break the poor thing in half!” Another man shoved the first off his bar stool and stood up with an aggressive look on his face. Clearly unimpressed the giant of a man grabbed the brass rail of the bar and caught himself before falling to his feet. The brass bar rail shuttered and the wood creaked as he pulled himself forward to stand chest to chest with the pusher man. An easy foot taller than the pusher the giant growled and pulled his fist back, mumbling under his breath “God damn you”
“ENOUGH!” The pretty young thing slammed her hand down on the bar a second time, louder than the first. Enough to get the attention of all the drinkers, talkers, and fighters in the bar. She rounded on the brawlers and raised a fist of her own “This is my FIRST show, you’re my FIRST audience, I will not have some DRUNK, TESTOSTERONE DRIVEN, FOOLS ruin everything for me before I even get on stage for my first song!” She pointed at the stage, her face tight and eyes fiery despite their chocolate brown irises. “Now SIT! both of you!” Her eyes darted between the men as their faces cherried and their own eyes fell back to their drinks, muttering a quiet apology they returned to their stools as the bar erupted in cheers and raised beers.
Jerry wore a smirk, and his glasses, as he eyed up the woman in her polka-dot sundress. She adjusted her spaghetti straps back into place over her olive skinned shoulders and shot another evil glare at the two men beside her, checking to make sure they were behaving. “Awh don’t be so hard on Bill and John” Jerry iced the woman’s temper “They’re brothers, they fight all the time – don’t mean no harm sweetheart”
Bill and John’s eyes grew to the size of pancakes as they edged their stools away from Jerry, pretending they never met what’s-his-face and he wasn’t even there in that moment. Only they had noticed that the woman’s painted nails now dug into the soft old wood of the bar.
“Still” She started through clenched teeth “I’m the entertainment for the night, and my name is Hope. Not sweetheart”
Jerry stumbled, taken aback as Hope leaned over the bar with those fiery eyes that could have burned a hole in the disposition of the strongest willed misogynist. “Is the stage ready?” She asked as she glanced at her watch. She didn’t have the time nor the energy to waste on something so fruitless. Jerry nodded with haste, he wasn’t willing to run the risk of needing a crowbar to get the other foot out of his mouth. Somewhere down the bar Bill and John chuckled between each other
Jerry motioned to the left where the stage presented itself to Hope, giving her a better idea of what she had to work with. A simple semi circle of cheap wood painted as black as the walls, lit by a quartet of spotlights. Three feet in height and attached to the wall opposite of the exit that lay 30 feet parallel. Atop the stage sat a slender black pole where Hope would take her place and in front of the microphone(HA.) Behind that was the humble 4 piece drum kit, bass and electric guitar flanking it’s sides. A tall man rose to greet her behind the drums as she approached the stage, his long greying hair held back by a tie-dyed bandanna that framed his experience creased face. Blue eyes, sharp and kind made held contact with Hope’s as he welcomed her up on stage.
The drummer held his hand out over the snare drum and introduced himself,
“I’m Jimmy, and we’re the house band, we call ourselves Simply Adverb Free” He grinned though half closed eyes, proud of the creative spark that came up with the name. At the same time he gestured to either side with his long arms spread wide. In chairs beside guitar stands were two other gentlemen, they recognized their cue and stood up to converge around the drummer and their new lead singer “Hope” She introduced herself to everyone at the same time and handed out 3 pieces of paper that she pulled from her clutch. “I don’t think you’ll have any problems with these songs” She smiled herself as the energy built up inside only a mater of time now. There was just something about this group that felt… electric.
The guitarist smiled and nodded as he read down the list of a dozen songs. He was balding in a horse shoe shape, his large framed aviator glasses hid his eyes but his smile was large and bright “No problem at all with these songs. Someone raised you right Hope, guess you could said there’s hope for your generation yet! – Get it? cuz your name is Hope” The guitarist shook let out a single honk of a laugh and shook Hope’s hand “Oh! I’m Les by the way.” Les looked over to the bassist and remarked “Gonna be a good show man, gonna be real good.”
The bassist held a more stoic disposition, borderline incredulous as he looked up from the list. “Levon” He introduced himself “You got the talent to back these songs up, kid?” He watched everything that had happened up until this point and welcomed the attitude of the new girl on the stage. Levon was a realist and not about to let some young blood push him around, no matter their gender he welcomed the chance to put anyone in their place.
Hope stared at the musical trio with pursed lips and furrowed brow “Hope” she re-affirmed “I can sing, kid, it’s too late to question me, let’s just put on a good show okay?” She stared down Levon before returning to her furrowed brow “More importantly…” She trailed off for a moment “Just so I know I have this right… Levon, the bassist. Jimmy the Drummer, and Les the Guitarist…” A communal smirk infected the members of the house band but not a word was uttered. Each artist just went back to their respective instruments. She wasn’t quite sure if they were playing her for a fool or not, and it didn’t matter. She had a show to do and that was her only focus.
The guitar and bass kicked up first as Hope sauntered up to the microphone, she looked over the expectant crowd. Half of them wore a dazed uninterested look of intoxication, the other half paid no mind to the music that played in the background of their awareness. Only in the peripheral vision did they see Hope start to twirl back and forth with the flow of the song, waiting, patiently for her cue to sing.
The note was struck, the drummer raised his sticks ever so slightly and Hope opened her mouth to belt out the first lyric.
“There is a house, in New Orleans. They call the rising sun” Her eyes closed as she put 13 years of experience and practice into her passion for music. It started out subtle, as though she was talking to the crowd rather than singing. Her voice deepened to pay respect to the original artists while at the same time putting her interpretative spin on tone and pitch.
“And it’s BEEN the ruin, of many a poor boy… and god I know I’m one.” The sharp note of the second line caught a few eyes if not for the abruptness then for the band that had a stage presence all their own. Les stepped into the spotlight, rocking back and forth with a cool mystique. Levon nodded as he plucked out the bass line walking too and fro in the small area of the stage that he had to himself.
“My Moooother was a tailor, she sewwwwwwed my new blue jeans” Her voice struck chords and hung in the air with clarity and strength that no one in the tavern could deny any longer. Every set of eyes was on the young woman behind the microphone as she drove home every note with the heart of a true artist embedded in her craft. The band matched her intensity note for note and Les took up the part of the organ solo, improvising a solo that would have made Hendrix jealous, the audience was on the edge of their seats, transformed from leather clad cliche bikers into children in awe of art being created before their eyes. Not a single pint left the table while they played their first few songs. Following “House of the rising sun” with “Come together” and slowing it down with her “Fever” it was a night that no one was soon to forget. The fawn that walked into their dive bar, walked out a tiger. Respected and revered, not for the curves of her body or the whip of her words but the vibrancy of her voice and passion that came with it.
(Seriously, I spent way too much time on this one. The protagonist is based on my partner who is just as strong a feminist as the one in this short story, as well she sings so putting myself in her shoes was an interesting, and amusing activity. It`s now around 1030 at night and I`ve put so much time into this that I just can`t concentrate anymore. Probably about 3 hours of writing and another hour and a half of editing to make sure I didn`t put in any adverbs. I swear if anyone found one… I`m only human! *Sobs*)