A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Here's my McSweeney's submission

8. A husband and wife are meeting in a restaurant to finalize the terms of their impending divorce. Write the scene from the point of view of a busboy snorting cocaine in the restroom.

It was a dreary Saturday night. A smattering of patrons shuffled out of the icy New England rain and into the dimly lit Italian restaurant. Apparently the customers thought that a hushed hue equated to elegance; Seth knew that it was just Mario’s way of trying to skimp and save, like usual. Fucking wops. They’d come out of the back room screaming their heads off if some tablecloth had a lone breadcrumb on it. They didn’t know how hard it was to carry these plastic tubs full of marinara and half-eaten cutlets through the cramped quarters. The boss kept getting on his back: “Cleanliness is next to godliness, and that’s only followed by the customer always being right.” Fucking Mario and his cunt-ass whore girlfriend. Like they knew shit about working 6 days a week, trying to scrape by on six bucks an hour while these pretentious pricks shoveled the ricotta-and-spinach special down their throats.

Tonight, probably because of the rain, Seth figured that it’d be quieter than usual. Not good for the old morale, especially since he had pulled a shift at The Diner earlier today. He got off at 3:00 and had to be at Mario’s at 4:00. Fuck me indeed. Well, at least he that fat fuck Lugo was working today in the back. He had scored a $20 bag of powder just as his shift began. It was already three hours in and Seth knew he needed a quick bump if he was going to get through this fucking night. Luckily, the bathroom was right next to the kitchen and there weren’t too many dining tonight, though one couple was at the table nearest the restroom. They were dressed nicely: bet they rode the train everyday from here to the City. They were probably fucking lawyers or something.

He dropped off his dirty dishes and stole into the restroom. His fingers tingled, numb with what was to come. As he tapped out the white dust onto the porcelain sink’s counter, he faintly heard the lawyers talking. Their voices were flat, business-like.

“So what do you want to do about the kids then?” Seth heard the man ask.

He took out a Discover Platinum and whittled down the snowy granules.

“Well, they need you in their life, John. But we both know that it’s better if they live with me.”

Seth continued tapping, still tingling in his fingers, his hands shaking now.

“Fine. I guess I’ll get the weekends then. And the holidays? How will we work that?”

The grains were tiny, virtually a perfect white blanket on the sink.

“Well, I better fucking have them for Passover. You know how my Mother is about it. You can have them for Christmas. Fair is fair right?”

“How are we going to work out their presents? And what are we going to tell them? What should they know?” The man seemed like he was giving up.

Seth lined up 4 fat lines of blow. He concentrated on evenness. He didn’t want one particle more to get up one nostril or the other.

“For fuck’s sake, John. What don’t you want them to know? Do you not want them to know about that slut you slept with in Jersey? About how you stopped picking them up from soccer practices because you were too busy fucking her on the copier? Jesus.”

Seth rifled through his pocket. Fuck. He forgot to get a straw from the kitchen. Well, guess ol’ Honest Abe would have to do. He imagined Abe on coke during the Emancipation Proclamation. That would have been one feisty motherfucker.

“OK Cathy. Fine. It’s too late for this. The kids are going to find out one way or another. Just let’s not start up a whole ‘he said-she said’ debate with them. It’s over. That’s the bottom line.”

He rolled Abe up into a nice tight cylinder.

“And the dogs, John. What about the dogs?”

He inhaled sharply four consecutive times, his head tilting forward each time, then back and over to the left for the next line. “Call me the fucking typewriter,” he thought.

“Keep ‘em. The kids can’t live without ‘em.”

Seth took his finger and ran it across the counter. He stuck his finger between his lips and gum and ran it around.

“You never even liked the dogs did you. When did all of this stop mattering to you?”

His lips and nose were numb. He felt the tingling of a drip at the back of his throat.

“About the time when you stopped giving a fuck about me, Cath. Don’t pretend you’re the victim here. Everybody’s guilty here.”

Seth was zooming now. His mind was in motion, he was ready to go. That had hit the motherfucking spot, alright! He pictured thousands of synapses shooting fireworks in his brain. The drip was bitter on his throat. Goddamn he felt good!

He inhaled sharply, unlocked and pushed open the bathroom door. He strutted past Cathy and John. She looked out towards the rain, her eyes and cheeks wet. John looked the other way. He motioned the waiter for the check.

Seth fetched his tub from the kitchen.


Blogger Guy Tarkington said...

I like it. Especially the cutting of dialogue with the action of doing the lines. Nice.

Here's the beginnings of mine:

A man has a terrifying dream in which he is being sawn in half. He wakes to find himself in the Indian Ocean, naked and clinging to a door; a hotel keycard is clenched in his teeth. Write what happens next.

The man awoke as a wail heaved from his mouth, like a quick punch to the gut. Tom Border sat up and felt his heart beating hard and fast, and listened to his tentative breath as if it were someone else’s.

He had been dreaming that he was watching a performance of The Silent Magician aboard his cruise ship, The Indian Spirit. He hadn’t wanted to go to the show, or on the cruise for that matter, but his wife Julia answered both of those protests with a campaign of intimidation and guilt.

The placard outside the lounge showed the silent magician posed with one finger pressed to his lips pleading quiet from the viewer, and another outstretched hand drew question marks floating upward from a top hat. Exclamations on the poster promised that the show would be captivating, mesmerizing, and one-of-kind.

The copper sun was just bursting through over the ocean and for the past several hours his body was in a grotesque cycle of waking, sleeping and nightmare. what his mind was not ready to perceive: that he was naked, that he was lying facedown on a large wooden door, and that door was floating in a vast ocean. The rectangular piece of plastic in his teeth was an afterthought, really.

6:17 PM

Blogger BZ said...

I think exercises like this are a good place to start. I used the, “ I was too busy with the end of the semester” as my excuse for not submitting, but I did think about. I think it would be beneficial if we ran exercise like this every couple of weeks. You know throw out a prompt and have all of us write a few thousand words.

As for this entry, I loved the end after he does the coke; it was the most emotional part of the piece. I think it is a good draft, like someone said all first drafts are shit. (I am not saying this is shit) The tricky part is sticking with a draft until it shines. I hope that makes sense.

9:30 PM

Blogger Jefe said...

I like the beginnings...

8:16 AM


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