J & J part 3

Up Jack got and home did trot,
as fast as he could caper.

Two weeks later, Jack returned to Dob’s Advertising Agency. He hadn’t expected to return at all. Not that his traumatic brain injury, wrenched neck, and broken rib were life threatening, it was just that he’d expected to be canned. After all, he was just an intern. Part of the agreement between the university and the agency had to include something about attendance the majority of time – which he obviously couldn’t do if his, literally, swollen head couldn’t get itself off the pillow. However, the HR guy called and his doctor said yes and so back to the grind. He hoped that coffee runs were no longer on the list of things he had to do.
He stepped off the elevator and into the fishbowl area outside of Mrs. Dob’s office where he’d been stationed before. The usual noisiness seemed comforting. He spotted Jill before she spotted him. Her injury seemed to have healed because she had sexy platform shoes on with white straps that snaked up her dark leotard legs toward the frilly white skirt she had on. Jack found himself smiling when she spotted him. Instead of smiling back – because why would she do that, Satan’s daughter that she was – she held up a hand indicating that he should wait, and slipped into Mrs. Dob’s office, closing the door firmly behind her.
Jack ignored her implied order to stay at the doorway and went to his desk.
Except it wasn’t his desk anymore.
Some punk sat at it. A straw-haired, ivy-league, cable knit sweater wearing – probably on the frigging rowing team – punk sat there.
He stood up when Jack paused at the edge of the desk. Jack watched him rise. A large, rowing team punk.
“Oh, you must be Jack.” He held out a paw. “I’m Al.”
“Hey,” Jack answered and had his hand engulfed.
Al seemed about to say something but changed his mind, coming to an alert attention like a Great Dane about to get a treat. Jill swished up and said, “Oh good, you’ve met. Excuse us, Al, Mrs. Dob wants to see Jack.”
“Yes, ma’am. Nice to meet you, Jack.”
Jill and Al smiled at each other. Jack looked down at the paper on his old desk and saw “Al Forma, Intern” on the name plate.
“Oh, and Al, Mrs. Dob would like some coffee.” Jill added, “Could you run up the hill to get it, please?”
The Great Dane gets to get coffee by himself?
Jack’s head started to hurt.
“Of course, Ma’am. Right away. Can I get you anything?”
“Oh, no thank you. But it was very sweet of you to ask.” And she said it with no hint of sarcasm.
Jack looked around to see if any of the other office workers had noticed her decline in to niceness. No one paid any attention to them.
“Coming Jack?” Jill said over her shoulder as she swished off to the boss’ den.

J & J Contemporary Line 2

Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.

“Mrs. Dob is going to kill us,” Jill said.
Jack looked away from the ruins of the coffee container at the driver of the SUV, who stumbled toward them.
“Fuck Mrs. Dob’s coffee,” he muttered. All this hassle had made his head hurt.
“Are you okay?” the driver asked.
Jill’s hiss this time seemed more than annoyance. Jack glanced at her. She sat on the sidewalk, in the snow, rubbing her booted ankle.
She looked up at the driver, opened her mouth and paused, focusing on Jack.
“Jack, you’re bleeding. Are you…” Her voice took on a hollow quality as the edges of his vision went dark. His world tilted sideways.

An alarm woke him with a start. He had a moment of disorientation he usually associated with waking up in a stranger’s bed, although he couldn’t feel the associated warm body nor smell the usually pleasant scent of her perfume and sex. Instead, he smelled disinfectant. He opened his eyes and saw acoustical ceiling titles. He tried to turn his head, but couldn’t. A cacophony of beeps and buzzers went off when he tried to sit up. Hospital, his sore head and the IV in his hand told him.
A nurse poked his head around the corner, flashed a smile at Jack, and ducked back out of sight. Jack tried to call after him, but his words died in his parched throat. The beeps of the machine monitoring him started to take on a ticking time bomb quality. The sudden sound of the overhead paging system calling some “Doctor Horton” to the nurses station made him jump. Who was Doctor Horton and was he Jack’s doctor? He tried to sit up again and the buzzers complained. No one came to check on him.
He frantically assessed his body. From what he could tell, only his head seemed injured. The beeping of the monitor next to him mirrored his increasing heartbeat and paranoia. They’d left him. The zombies from the morgue had risen up and were right that moment overtaking poor Doctor Horton and the nurses. They’d be on him next.
A slight sound at the door caused him to wrench his neck when he jumped. The room spun and his stomach spun the other way.
Things got fuzzy after that for a few moments.

When he opened his eyes again, he found the nurse, the doctor – Horton even – and Jill hovering over his bed. Jill had crutches under her armpits, and her black rat eyes looked more like lost puppy eyes when she looked at him.
“Hey,” he croaked. He swallowed and tried again. She smiled – not a snarky smile, but a genuine smile. It made her look like a different, more attractive, person.
“Hey,” she said back softly.
The nurse handed him a cup with a bendy straw, and he sucked on it. He gestured with his hand toward her crutches.
“Oh,” she looked down self-consciously, “My ankle broke when you saved me.”
Jack made a concerned noise.
“It’s okay,” she said, patting his leg. “I’d rather be alive. Thank you.”
She squeezed his knee and said it again: “Thank you.”
He spit the straw out to say something, but the nurse expertly stuck it back in his mouth. He gestured with his hand and eyebrows that he didn’t do anything big. The nurse told him to stop moving.
The doctor said something and Jill stepped back before he could catch her hand.

J & J Contemporary Scene 1 continued

They arrived at the top of the hill and found the boutique coffee shop that Mrs. Dob preferred. A clump of people stood inside. Jack supposed the clump would have formed a line if it had been temperate outside. Jill pushed her way in, causing grumbles from the group as she held the door open, allowing winter and Jack in.
One poor, frantic barista scuttled from cash register to coffee pot or espresso machine to the pick-up area and back.
Once Jill reached the counter and started to order, the barista, whose bushy red hair made him even more squirrel like, blanched.
“Mrs. Dob?” he asked, almost cowering.
Jill smirked and nodded. She didn’t have to finish detailing the order. The man turned and started his preparations.
Jill pulled Jack out of the clump of people to hover near the pick-up area.
“Does she always get tea and coffee together?”
Jill nodded. “A cinnamon chai latte with a double blast of whipped cream and a shot of espresso.” She added, “The cinnamon has to be freshly ground, the espresso made with distilled water, and the whipped cream really whipped – not out of a frozen carton.”
Jill went on, showing an unexpected glimpse of humanity, “When I first started, Henry – my predecessor – sent me here alone without specific instructions. Mrs. Dob railed at me for days for putting stale cinnamon on top of her chai latte. The fact that I brought her a separate espresso probably saved my life.”
“Does she want this every day?”
Jill gave Jack a pitying look. “Only on days that end with Y.”
He should have been thankful for Jill’s insistence that she accompany him to get coffee, but really he just felt annoyed: three and a half years of school to become a coffee gofer. Somehow Jill had moved up to junior ad exec, replacing whomever Henry was, so he could too. If it meant taking that hill everyday in whatever weather and harassing the barista, so be it.
Jill whipped out a soft lunchbox-type cooler from somewhere under her coat, which she wrapped carefully around the hot drink. She illustrated how Jack should hold it and passed it to him. She purchased a coffee for herself – not offering one to Jack – and they went back out into the cold.

The storm seemed to have settled in for the nonce, the street and sidewalk now covered with unploughed snow. After stepping carefully for a few minutes, Jack wished for a snowboard 0r skis, even a sled would have been better. Carrying the precious drink in both hands made balancing a challenge.
A rumbling sound made Jack glance back at the top of the hill. He expected another snow plough but an Escalade careened over the crest of the hill and slid down at luge speed. Jill, not paying attention, sipped her coffee and muttered about her car. The driver lost control and the heavy SUV headed directly for them.
All considerations of coffee forgotten, Jack grabbed Jill’s arm and pulled her out of the way just as the vehicle crashed into the light pole she’d been about to pass. They landed on their backs on someone’s stoop, glass, snow and ice falling about them like confetti.
“What the hell, Jack?” she asked, her eyes wide. She struggled back to her feet and brushed futilely at the coffee stain on her coat.
Jack climbed to his feet, rubbing his hip. He started to move to check on the driver when Jill’s hiss stopped him. She pointed to his feet.
The lunchbox container that held Mrs. Dob’s holy grail of coffee had been flattened by a piece of debris.




J & J contemporary scene 1

According to Shawn Coyne, author of The Story Grid, each beat [an identifiable moment of change], scene, sequence of scenes, act, and story has the following:

“Here they are in outline form:

  1. Inciting Incident
    1. Causal
    2. Coincidence
  2. Progressive Complication
    1. Active Turning Point
    2. Revelatory Turning Point
  3. Crisis
    1. The Best Bad choice
    2. Irreconcilable goods
  4. Climax
  5. Resolution

These five elements must be clearly defined and executed for each unit of story.”

So, scene 1 of the J & J contemporary story will be the first line of the poem:

Jack and Jill went up the hill
to fetch a pail of water.

Backstory situation:

Jack and Jill work for Dob’s Advertising. There’s a big meeting coming up, and Mrs. Dob (the senior executive) has to have her coffee. The coffee maker is broken. Jack is an intern and Jill is a junior advertising executive. There is a meeting that Mrs. Dob’s needs her coffee for. It is important to Jill to please Mrs. Dob and it is important to Jack to learn how Jill does her job, so that he can take that job, with the future goal of becoming an advertising executive once he impresses Mrs. Dob with his skills. Jack is not amused at being a gofer and Jill has better things to do than babysit Jack. Mrs. Dob doesn’t care about either of them as long as they do what she asks.

Inciting incident:
“Jill,” Mrs. Dob’s warning-buzzer voice sounded out. All nearby staff of the advertisement office froze in dread or anticipation. “Did the service company repair that coffee maker yet?”
Jill looked up from reading a sheet of ad copy and met Jack’s eyes. Her eyes reminded him of a rat’s. She flashed a small, feral smile, and got up to answer her boss, swishing past him in her pencil skirt and impossibly high-heeled shoes. If she weren’t his internship boss, he’d think she’d be right at home at a strip club or maybe an S & M club.
His vision of the junior ad exec in handcuffs changed to her holding the whip when she said, “Oh Jack, we have an errand to run.”

Of course it had to be snowing, and of course the coffee shop that Mrs. Dob wanted coffee from had to be at the top of a particularly steep hill. Jill, out of her striper shoes and in snow boots, turned out to be slightly shorter than he. Jack trudged up the icy side walk behind her, noting that her long lavender coat diminished her dominatrix-y aura. Yet she still swished.

“You know,” he said, increasing his pace a little so that he walked beside her. He forgot what he was about to say, pausing to watch as a snow plough did a controlled slide down the hill. It took out the side-view mirror of an unfortunate Audi 500. Jill hissed at the crunch, but didn’t stop. He caught up with her again and she said “What?”

“I could have come up here without you. I think I know how to get coffee.”

She snorted and said, “Mrs. Dob was exceptionally specific about my supervisory position. You are not to be trusted to do complicated or important things on your own.”

“And getting coffee is complicated?”

She didn’t answer that, but looked back down the hill at the sound of another car losing its mirror. “Damn it,” she muttered, raising her arm as if to wave at the plough driver. She dropped it back with a growl. “Damn full parking garage.”

“Was that your car?” Jack smothered the urge to laugh.

She gave him a death look and stomped up the hill with more determination, leaving Jack to scramble after.




coming up for a breath

Since San Diego Comic Con International I’ve been non-stop busy. And not writing. I am, however, doing a little fiction editing, which has been challenging and a good learning experience. I hope to turn this apprenticeship (although I’m not really apprenticing to anyone) into a more full-time paying gig – so that I can do less line/grammar editing at my day job. I’ve moved, started a new romantic relationship with someone in a different city (yeah – it’s a challenge but I think we’re up to it), started fiction editing, and been to Flagstaff, AZ; Great Meadows, NJ; and Ventura CA. I’ve seen my brother’s love-mate for perhaps the last time (that’s depressing – she has cancer and the outlook is not good). I’ve spent a lot of money (not surprising).
I should write something though.
With that in mind, I bring you the layered approach.
The layered approach is start small, add details, revise, repeat.
Jack and Jill nursery rhyme
Jack and Jill went up the hill
to fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown
and Jill came tumbling after.
Up Jack got and home did trot,
as fast as he could caper.
To Old Dame Dob, who patched his nob
with vinegar and brown paper.
When Jill came in, how she did grin
to see Jack’s paper plaster;
Mother vexed did whip her next
for causing Jack’s disaster.

So we have Jack, a male, and apparently Jill, female, his nemesis. There’s Old Dame Dob and someone’s mother – who may or may not be the same person. Are they siblings? Friends? Jack and Jill Dob?
Could this rhyme be turned into a story? Does it have a beginning, middle, and end? Conflict? Could it be made to fit various genres?
I think so. So – my writing challenge (to add to the pile) is to make short/flash fiction stories for various genres using the above rhyme.
More on this soon…

Saturday, Comic-Con Day 3

It didn’t happen. I thought it would, but it didn’t. We did not go to Comic Con on Saturday. Instead, we got up late and went for brunch at The Draft in Mission Beach and I put my feet in the ocean (always a goal of mine).
After that, we saw the new Star Trek movie (Star Trek Beyond). I liked it. It had good special effects that I’m sure were awesome in 3D, but we saw it in 2D. The cinematography was a little spiny at times, and I had a moment or two of vertigo. I’ll have to see it again so that I can follow the story more closely, which is the case for me with most of the new Star Trek movies. “Action packed” to say the least.
For dinner, we ended up at both Dickey’s Barbeque and the vegetarian place next door. I had vegetarian and it was not exactly what I wanted. I had a taste for a specific food or flavor of food and I thought that’s what I would get, but they were out and so I ended up with a substitute, which was good, but it just wasn’t what I wanted/craved, so it was frustrating. Maybe in a different situation it would have been exactly what I wanted. I don’t know – a good experience but not a fulfilling one?
Another lesson in not having expectations perhaps?
We saw The Fooks at the Blarney Stone (across the street from dinner) and Chang joined us, also a new friend (new to me), Snori (his SCA name). The band was good but not as together as the night before. The guitarist (Gilly) has a new girlfriend (Melissa? Jessica?) and I think he was more interested in her than in playing. And of course, they were louder than necessary. Mama Fook wasn’t there to keep them in line. Good times anyway.
Today (Sunday) it’s all over. The end of the vacation. N/S are off to Sunday Comic Con and D/K to recover, Eoin to home, and I’m returning to the desert. It was a lovely vacation and I wish I could stay longer. OCEAN, sigh. Anyway, thanks for reading. Have a lovely day.

Friday, Comic Con Day 2

Friday, July 22
A full day, and again, I don’t remember exactly how it started but we ended up at the Con, with D this time. Went to Nerd HQ. K and I didn’t want to go in, so we stood in line for a Star Trek thing that turned out to be a make-up station that wanted credit cards, so we went to Nerd HQ. Then off to meet the Kellys and their friend Tina at the Stout House – which seemed like a really long walk. Stopped at another Star Trek thing, this one an art show. Very cool. The artists were there signing and selling posters but I couldn’t talk myself into purchasing anything.
Stout House was as good as always.
Then it was off to Henry’s Pub, which had turned into a Game of Thrones thingy (basically it had cool house flags and the bartenders/wait staff wore GOT shirts).
Then to L street to see the wall of GOT faces – but there was a huge line. So Petco, and there was a huge line. By that time, I had been peopled out and my tongue was getting sharp. I wasn’t in a particularly bad mood, just snippy – which meant that it was time for nap. So K, D, and I bailed. Eoin stayed with Tina and the Kellys for a while. I heard later that Tina bailed and the Kellys went into the Con (as they have tickets).
Mass napping and then I was ready to go back to the Gaslamp to get ready for seeing The Fooks at The Field. Everyone bailed except for Eoin (who stayed down there the whole time). We had dinner at Whiskey Girl and listed to Dale and Cindy, then Chang responded to a text I sent earlier and he joined us at The Field.
The Fooks were awesome. Gilly is back playing guitar and the energy level has increased greatly. Good times. Lots of people, obviously. Met a nice Irish guy, from Northern Ireland, and his wife, from Texas. His name was Paul and I didn’t catch her name, but both very nice. Also met an Irish guy from Kilkenny named Whitney. He said he hadn’t met anyone with that last name before. Eoin met some guys from Switzerland. There was a whole Northern Irish contingency there getting rowdy.
Taxied home and am off to the beach today (kinda Conned out at the moment).

Thursday, Comic Con Day 1

Thursday, July 21
I’m not sure how the day started but we went to the banks and then took an Uber down to the trolley station where we caught a mildly full trolley to the Con. Then we went to have a drink and a potty-potty (as K calls it) at one of the bars near the trolley station. Then off to Nerd HQ. We were all pre-registered so we got right in with our non-removable wristbands. We had our pictures taken for Operation Smile and I bought a t-shirt. Then Eoin and I stood in line on the upper floor – for way too long – to see a VR demo. I bailed before I got in and caught up with K downstairs at the cereal bar. We saw Zachary Levi arrive for his panel. We had stopped to check out the 3-D printer when one of the staff said “Hey, want to go to Zach’s panel? $20” and we said “Hell yes” so we left Eoin in VR land while we went to see the panel. Zachary Levi was interesting, funny, and unexpectedly religious. The first question, which we think may have been planted, was about when he found God. He said he found religion at 18 (in a long story). Anyway, good for him and all that – totally not what I expected. But it was a good panel and he’s very enthusiastic about Nerd HQ and Operation Smile and all of his fundraising/awareness-raising projects.
After that we meet Eoin outside and we had lunch at the Horton Grand Hotel – which is very nice. The food was good and the place was quiet with not many people. After lunch it was off to see what else was out there. We ended up in the line for the Timeless (new TV show) experience, which included a picture and a whirly ride. K wasn’t feeling well, so she went home. I skipped the whirly ride because I get motion sickness.
Then it was off to the Hilton to find a water, a potty-potty, and an adult beverage. We found a couch across from the Starshine Enterprise shoe shining place, home of Captain Kirk Shoe Shine. The guy who shined the shoes looked like a wider Captain Kirk. Fun. After that break we walked around the ConX, which is where all the TV networks were set up, and past the Adult Swim event, around the back of the convention center and back to the trolley and home.
We had pizza that night and watched a few episodes of Limitless, which I quite enjoyed. I’ll have to track that down when I return to my solitude.
Today we are back to the Con, and then maybe back home for a nap, and then back to the Gaslamp area for a band. At least, that’s the plan. More soon.

Wednesday, Pre-Comic Con Day 1

Wednesday July 20
Well, technically the Con starts Wednesday evening with the preview action in the main exhibition hall – but seeing as I don’t have tickets, Preview Night is not applicable. I’ve seen posts from some of my author friends about already being at the Con and having fun.
So, Wednesday. Went for a walk, worked on revising my story, dealt with WOW updates (the game was completely reset so all of my character’s stats had to be redone – quelle merde). Anyway, K came home from work early and we went to the mall for some shopping therapy. I got a Supernatural t-shirt and new tennis shoes. Napped. Brother Eoin came down from Long Beach after work and we went to see Old Stormy at the Blarney Stone. Old Stormy turns out to be one guy who refused to give his name, just went by Old Stormy – even though he wasn’t old. He was a good entertainer though and played a lot of audience participation songs. If he could just replace the singer from The Thundercock – there’d be a hot band. Anyway, he had quite the following with the regulars following along, yelling out, and doing movements. Very fun and funny. Good crowd for a Wednesday night. Chang showed up late, but at least he showed up. He looked tired. Some other friend of D/K’s was supposed to come but bowed out at the last minute. D stayed home because he had to work Thursday – poor baby😉

Off to Comic Con today (Thursday). A report, hopefully, about that tomorrow morning before I get up and do it again (see if I don’t)!

Tuesday, Pre-Comic Con Day 2

Tuesday, July 19.
At D/K’s house. They went to work and I decided I needed to see Sunset Cliffs with my camera. I got some good shots. There was a marine layer, so the light was not the best. The ocean was not very lively and the surfers didn’t seem enthusiastic. I’m not sure surfers are ever enthusiastic; a very laid back bunch. Saw two crabs fighting. The winner dragged the loser into a crevice, where I assume he/she was consumed. Circle of life and all that. Sat on a cliff and communed with the ocean. It was everything I wanted it to be.
Returned to the house and discovered a large update to WOW (my game) and that took forever. Went to meet LaDona for lunch. LaDona is a friend from Flagstaff who I haven’t seen in close to 30 years. She’s awesome and doing well. She has a new 2016 Corvette Stingray that is just plain sexy. We had lunch at Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern, a place I’d been to a few times before. Good food. Good conversation. Fun to catch up on old things like the band we had in common (Something Blue). I hope she can catch us up later this weekend for I want her to meet the rest of my SD folks.
After D/K got back from work, K wanted to dye her hair blue and green, so we did that. My hair is not yet fully white, so no dye jobs for me. It’s a thing. I am definitely a WYSIWIG person. Ellie Mae got in touch with K at work. Evidently Cos wants to come visit next week. We called him and told him to come visit this week while all the rest of his KE fam was around. He said he’d get back to us on that – so I expect that’s a no. Had a lovely text chat with Clint (Hi Clint!).