W101.8 – Oh to be a Day Behind

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.


 

 

Dear Adverbs,

 

Get *%&$ed.

 

Sincerly,

-Zed

 

(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*)

W101.6&7 – Termination II

The bar was half full and my beer half empty while I waited for my good friend Tommy to show up for our “Bro-date” as he called it.

What a douche I thought to myself before shaking my head. but a loveable douche.   He’s one of those guys that you’d expect to hug you, slap your ass and then call you bro-buddy-guy-dude.  As obnoxious as that sounds there’s something undeniably charming about him.  No matter who you are, were or what you do… or did, he treats everyone like they’re number one.  Which, if you’re clever enough to realize, it means that no one is special… or everyone was special to him.  It was really the two schools of thought that frequented my previous job.  You either love ’em or hate ’em.  Speak of the devil..

He walked though the door… walked? Nah, more like swaggered.  Heavy set with slicked back hair and gorilla like arms he was a 30-something Italian to a tee.  He saw me sitting at the back of the bar but still had to make his rounds to 5 other people that he knew.  Hugging each of them,  he made sure to slap them all on the ass and make some corny joke to get everyone at the table laughing.  That’s why he was the front of house manager.  The man was a master at turning sullen customers into laughing, over tipping, audience members, at The Tommy Show.

Once he got to me he turned it up to 110% “Johnny!” he shouted and gave his signature quiet scream that came out something like “uuuuuwaaaaaaaahhhh” there’s no way to quite describe it unless you hear it.  I got up, wearing a grin somewhere between embarrassed and sheepish.  I loved the attention even if I was only as special as that other guy, no one treated me quite like he did.  He grabbed me in a hug and lifted all 130lbs of me into the air, stealing the air out of my lungs as he squeezed me tight I did what I could to pat the sides of his mid-section since my arms were trapped as part of the bear gorilla-hug.  After his hands were free from the hug and my feet back on solid ground his hand slapped my ass firmly.

“What’s up baby, unemployment has been good for your ass, it’s really coming in”  He said casually

“Fashionably late as always” I retorted, ignoring his flattering obsession with my ass.

“Hey, man, you don’t even know.  Look for serious I was just about on my way out the door-”

“and you walked by a mirror?” I cut in snidely with a grin and he laughed it off

“Yea true story, is this shirt too tight on me?” It sounded serious enough for me to look him over.

The blue plaid shirt was a bit tight for a large if not extra large, it barely fitting over his arms – his pecks jumped in the shirt.

“Hey my eyes are up here alright!?” He snapped his fingers a few times and looked me in the eye with his best attempt at looking offended before the look cracked into a cackle.

I gave him my best dead-pan look.  “Really?” I tilted my head to the side and looked over the frames of my glasses much to Tommy’s delight.   He once told me that the best reaction he can get from someone is them questioning if he was for real.

The server walked up to our table and took Tommy’s order while he made banter with her I zoned out, looking over the open ceiling that exposed support beams wrapped with white Christmas lights.  Two of the 4 walls in the bar were ceiling to floor glass windows that separated the patio from the interior, showing off how much fun customers were having and how good their drinks looked.  Come 5pm the bar didn’t need any help drawing people in.  A locally known watering hole for all the downtown business types, stocked with craft beers and good food it was a hot spot place to stop.

“I think your shirt’s not tight enough” Tommy smirked, pointing a finger and making a charming face that you could paint a monocle on.  She giggled, barely glancing over at me with a look like she couldn’t quite figure out what I was doing with someone so characteristically opposite.  “You good?” she asked bluntly.  Tommy cut in quickly “Nah, nah, he’ll definitely need another one, just put it on my tab”

“Do you ever turn it off?” I asked, genuinely curious. “Thanks for the drink” I added

“Yea man, no problem.  Seriously though I only have one position, baby. On”  He gave me the same look he gave her and burst out in a big man giggle.

I sighed.  I knew most of it was an act but I understood.  Sometimes you had to act happy to be happy, for all his jokes and charm I knew that on the inside he was incredibly self conscious and depressed.  He once told me that he used to be the fat kid with glasses in school and he got picked on a lot.  It was only after he graduated that he started working out and turning his fat into something more functional and learned to talk the talk from working the bar scene as a bouncer.   Still, you can surround yourself with the world and you’ll be no less lonely than you were before.

“For real though, how are you holding up?” The tone was serious and low, he leaned forward a bit.

What do you say to that?  How was I holding up? There was a part of me that wanted to scream “HOW DO YOU THINK I”M HOLDING UP!?” I’d been unemployed for a week by this point and the only lead I had was on dish-washing, something I vowed never to do again after suffering though a year shit work at a place that made the dishwashers clean and unclog the toilets at the end of their shift.

I took a deep breath to calm myself, trying to swallow the memories and remember that it was my fault and no one else’s

“I’m doin’ alright, I gotta call-back today on a dishwasher job so I won’t be un-”

“I’m sorry, a dishwasher job?” Tommy interrupted, sounding offended “You’re a chef, you’ve been a chef for 10 years! You are not going to be a dishwasher at some dive downtown” For all the voice I lacked, he more than made up for it.

With my hand up trying to calm him down “Cook.  Not chef.  Assistant to the Chef at best and even that unspoken, my contract was as a supervisor”

“Contracts don’t mean shit you ran that place” He practically spat the words out

I leaned forward this time and gave Tommy my best wide eyed serious look “They mean everything in the Corporate world, they’re the only thing that means anything in that world”

His eyes dodged to the left and he let out a puff of air “Pfft, that’s some bullshit, this whole situation is bullshit man, you shouldn’t have been fired.  You were the best thing to happen to that place”

My head fell to my hands to hide the fact that I was rolling my eyes.  He was loyal to a fault, kind of reminded me of  a dog if dogs could talk and you put one on the witness stand in court.  Exactly like that.

“Maybe, Tommy, but they didn’t see it that way and I can’t blame them.  I wasn’t cut from the same cloth as the others that worked they, they were willing to suck a dick if it came from the top floor.  I’m not a corporate whore and I never will be.  And agree with it or not, I gotta take some responsibility for my choices.  I made a bad call and it fucked up one day too many.  Nothing I can do about that now.”

I may not have liked that I was fired but there was something freeing about it.  They continually tried to push me to ‘get to know the right people’ and ‘make your name recognizable.’  I was far from a charming individual, that’s why I came to work in kitchens.  Sarcasm welcome, apply within.  Only once I was high enough up the ladder to get my head of the clouds did I see more and more of how it actually was.  The Board this, The Board that, The Board is sitting at table 42! Make it the best you’ve ever made it before.  “The Board” was everything that was wrong with that kitchen.  VIP’s shouldn’t exist in the kitchen experience, everyone should be VIP and if The Board gets a bad meal, we should know just as much as if anyone else gets a bad meal.

Unconsciously I wrung my hands and cracked my knuckles.  Just thinking about it was getting me worked up like I was gonna walk back in there and give them a piece of my mind.

“That is total crap!” Tommy burst through my cloud of thought “You were the hardest working guy there and no gave you any cred for that, they just took advantage of the fact that you never complained about the hours.  12 hour days shouldn’t be a regular thing when everyone else is working 8 or less that’s not fair and that’s fucked”

“Life’s not fair Tommy!”

Crap.

I sound like my father.


 

Day 6 and Day 7  wrapped up into something a bit meatier.

Day 7’s “Give and Take” was easily combined with Day 6’s “Most interesting person you know” since the most interesting person I know is someone I constantly disagree with on work based topics.  He thinks I’m the hardest working person to enter the kitchen and I’m a bit more realistic that yes, I do work 10 hour days 6 days a week when everyone else works less but that doesn’t discount their important or difficulty of the tasks they complete.  Being an asst manager is hard work, I couldn’t imagine what kind of stress the people above me must be under.

 

Thanks for reading!

-Zed

 

W101.5 – Terminated in 100 words or less.

It was only once the pink slip hit the table that I realized what was happening, and it happened so suddenly.

I had a bad day just yesterday, didn’t perform at my peak, sure.  But was it that bad?

“You’re only as good as your worst day, John and you’ve had too many.”  The only condolence my boss could manage.

The back door to the kitchen closed behind me, leaving me in the dark alley where I received so many orders in the past.

Stunned,  the only thought I could manage was “How am I going to feed my kids?”

 

 

 


 

Day 5:  Be brief.  

The only information I pulled from WP before I left for the weekend was something about a  letter and keeping it short.  I was thinking “Short” as in 500 words but when I read the 50 word and 100 word entries it really makes you think of the power of a simple word.

The subject mirrors real life.  Had a bad day, anxiety will be the death of me if my job doesn’t kill me first.  I feel that Management is very much a subject of fluidity,  where you can have a bad day, it happens to everyone.  But it’s your last bad day that people really remember.

Thanks for reading

-Zed

 

 

W101.4 – Time to Say Goodbye

Preface:

I had a hard time with this writing topic. First off it seems a bit ill-timed to see the subject being “The Serial Killer” with everything that’s going on in Moncton, NB right now.  Secondly, I’m not someone who has experienced a lot of ‘loss’  For two reasons (I’m seeing a pattern…)  The first being that I’ve been fortunate enough to not have experienced a lot of loss in general.  I could go through the women I’ve had and lost and how that’s changed me, I could go through the friends that have come and gone, the material goods I once coveted, the child that never was.  I could go on a dark tirade about the ‘have nots’ and why I should still have them or whatever perspective I wanted to take on the topic but there’s just not any value, to me, in that type of discussion.

The second being that I discovered my spiritual centre in Shamanism some years back when I re-connected with my father and I was taught about how to deal with loss and that you can accept that not everything is in your life forever and that if you lose something, the best way to deal with loss is to accept that someone else  might have needed it more than you.  I was given the example of a cat.  Say your cat ran away, heart wrenching right? You can choose to believe that your cat is out there, scared, alone, in trouble… and pine over that for however long, but there’s also a flip side to that reality that maybe your cat knew someone needed them more.  Like that old lady down the street who just lost her husband and now she has no one so your cat shows up on her door step to be loved and cared for in a manner that you may have taken for granted as their owner.

It was a very interesting discussion and other examples came up like being robbed.  If someone is that desperate to come and try and steal your money, it’s better to believe that they need that money more than you do, because who would go to such ends to get money, unless it was an incredible situation.

To some it might sound a bit… naive, rose-coloured even.  But it’s about perspective, and I’ve always said “Perspective can change your life depending on how you look at it”

Anyway, enjoy the story.


 

Time to Say Goodbye

IMG_20140605_183833

“I want you to know”  I said, placing my hands on the warm banister and turning my face to bask in the radiance of the summer sun “That I’ll really miss you”

I gazed over the balcony of my 10th floor apartment, not wanting to look back inside at the hardwood floors or the rays of light bursting through the bay window that framed the university off in the distance.  Even with the sun heating my apartment to a balmy 35 degrees it still seemed cold.  Instead I inhaled the fresh air that came with the benefit of the nearby park.  The lush trees puffed up like emerald green cotton balls.  Ripe with nurture from the spring rain and summer sun,  bundled together in a series of lines through out, giving the sense of nature having sectioned off a series of areas for people to rest, relax, or play.

“You don’t need to say anything, I understand that you have to go” I rambled.  I didn’t want to listen to what anyone else had to say about the topic.  I just needed to get it off my chest how important you were to me.  I knew you’d be back eventually but that didn’t mean I was ready for you to go.   “I get what they meant when they told me it was seasonal, you were a big part of the best 4 months of the year.  You made me smile, laugh, and gave me memories that I’ll tell my children about one day”

My throat tightened and a ball formed in my chest, like a vice grip on my heart.  I wasn’t sure if I could choke out another word without shedding a tear.  Even the castle-like university on the horizon couldn’t distract me enough to put my emotions aside.  Despite the vaulted peak of the clock tower that looked like it was reaching up to shake the god’s hand, despite the battlement stonework of building that held our national flag.  It just wasn’t enough beauty to compare to yours.

So I chose to reminisce.  It was all I could do was to remember the good times.

“remember…” I took a deep breath and smiled my most genuine smile while basking in your radiance “Remember that time I was at the bar with all my friends, I must have been there since noon until dusk when you signaled it was time to go, but you burned me so good!  It was terrible but we laughed so hard about it the next day at my cherry red skin”

The memories came at me like the dam broke on emotions that I had been holding back, denying, for so long.   I had so much fun that I didn’t want to believe you’d leave.  I wanted to stop time and just enjoy an eternity together in this moment.  I wanted to invite everyone over for one big going away party because we always had the most fun when everyone was together.

“Or-or-or” I stuttered and stumbled over my words, embarrassed that I cared this much over something so fleeting but you hung around, in silence, so I figured you wanted to hear what I had to say.  Right?  Of course.  “that time, at the park right down there.  That park where I take ChuckChuck to play fetch.  It was down there that we were all playing together, eventually we had a picnic and some other dog came up and stole the ham sandwich right out of my hand! I couldn’t believe it but that’s how we met our best friend and now we all go to the park together… Well… We did… but…”

I didn’t want to say it.  I didn’t want to admit to myself that my life was going to change without you around.

“but…” I couldn’t say the words.  You started to look like you were fading as the sky started to take on a darker hue “I understand, it’s getting late and you have to go”  The chill of the approaching evening grased my back softly, offering it’s support but it just wasn’t the same as the energy you gave me.

“One more thing!” A burst of courage exploded as I reached for you with all my might, my hand stretching toward the setting sun

“I’ll miss you, summer”


D’awhhhh!

Thank you for reading my installment of Day 4 – Writing 101

-Zed

p.s. Credit goes to a rando-blog that I stumbled upon earlier who has a dog named “ChuckChuck”  I’m not allowed to own a dog because I work too much and it wouldn’t be fair so I’m going to live vicariously though them and their dog owner stories.