Register a SA Forums Account here!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us $3,400 per month for bandwidth bills alone, and since we don't believe in shoving popup ads to our registered users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Locked thread
Mar 17, 2013

Damn. It feels good to be a gangster

I am digging this thread so far and would like to give it a shot. Count me in


Mar 17, 2013

Damn. It feels good to be a gangster

Inspired and written to this song. It's a Japanese song that is NOT JPOP. It is a Japanese crooner type of song. The linked video has English lyrics.

Just a House
Word count: 1049

“You know, it's funny. It's already been three months,”
“How's that funny, Sam?”
“I don't know. I thought I'd still be an emotional mess. Anyway, the agency is coming in today. They'll call you when they arrive,”
“Alright, sounds good,”
“Are you already there?”
“Yeah, I'm just in front of the house. I'll call you after?”
“Thanks. Talk to you later, Mikey,”

I hung up the phone and looked at the house. I tried not to think about it. But the thoughts just came through.

It's already been three months. Three months since our mom wasted away, with nothing to cover her but thin cotton sheets and a blue half gown. Blue was her favorite color. But she didn't care; her mind was already too far gone. She kept asking for Roberto. Her husband. I couldn't tell her that Roberto left years ago. She just kept smiling at me and would ask if her little Sammy was around.

The service was a blur of handshakes and comforting murmurs. Sam couldn't stop crying. But he pulled through to give the eulogy. He was always in charge, in control. About a month ago, he decided to sell the house. He couldn't imagine living there. And something needed to soften the hospital bills. Selling the house was the easiest thing we could think of.

He kept asking me if I was okay with this. I told him it was just a house. He slowly nodded and just asked me to sign on the dotted line. He took charge of the move too, hiring workers to take everything to a storage unit. I just signed more papers, allowing it all.

But. Am I really okay with letting all this go?

I got out of the car and started to walk around the house.

The house hadn't changed at all. The creaky fence, the cobble stone walk way. The tree in the back.

That's where I broke my arm from the old swing set. Sam dared me to jump off at the highest point. I happily jumped and landed arm first onto-

Something caught my eye. It was a baby blue sweater, lying in the grass. I bent over and picked it up. The movers must have forgotten it. I smiled as I looked at the faded from washer mishaps and general abuse.

College. Mom was so proud with tears in her eyes. I didn't even notice the newspaper wrapped lump she held behind her. She had knitted me a sweater, in between her two jobs. She said just in case Boston got too cold. I remembered that the sweater was too thin, even by California standards. But she worked so hard and-

My phone rang again.

“Hello? Mr....Trujillo? This is Alexandra, from Home Owners Estate Agency. We spoke earlier,”
“Yes. Hi, how are you?” I walked back to the car and tucked the sweater in the trunk.
“Fine, fine. How are you? You sound a bit under the weather,”
“I'm doing fine,” I swallowed the knot in my throat.
“Okay. I just wanted to let you know I am about five minutes away from the house,”
“Got it. Thanks. See you in a bit,” I closed the trunk.
“See you!”
I hung up the phone.

I went back to the house and opened the door. The inside was missing everything that made it a home.

Just a big empty room. Except that it wasn't just any room. Sam and I would play tag here. Mom would always yell at us not to run around the house.

But it'll be all gone. No more home. Nothing. It'll belong to a stranger. All these memories-

Five minutes til show time. I have to stop thinking about all this. We need the money.

I made a quick scan of the rooms, trying to see if the movers forgot anything else.

“Hello?” a voice came from the door way. I looked up to see the agency woman, holding her pen and clipboard at her side. I walked over and we exchanged the usual pleasantries. Her eyes scanned the room while we talked.

“Okay, Mr. Trujillo, I'm liking everything I see so far. But just a few things to note. One is that these scratches on the floor,” she pointed down with her pen.

I looked at the scratches near the doorway.

That was from when I brought a stray dog in the house. It nearly gave mom a heart attack. It scratched and stumbled to the door while she chased it out with a broom. She spanked me afterwards.

“Oh, that's nothing a little elbow grease and some sanding won't fix,” I laughed, trying not to think about why I could remember the dog so clearly.

She talk about more flaws. Such as the dent on the kitchen wall. That was from baseball practice inside the house. Sam's idea. We both regretted it. Some chipped parts of the wall. Baseball bats falling onto the wall.

“Okay, let's move on,” she walked into the next room. The knot was growing bigger in my throat.
We passed several crayon drawings on the wall. That was when mom was out working and we had nothing to do during summer. So we decided to draw all of our family and friends on the wall. We said it was so we can always see it when we walk by. She was furious at us. Of course we were spanked. But that never did stop us.
“We can wash those out,” I managed to get some words out from the growing knot.

“Okay, Mr. Trujillo, I think if we put a little more work, we can have this place sold pretty quickly!” she beamed.
“Okay, that sounds good,” I tried to smile. Only a corner of my mouth lifted.
“Are you sure you are okay? You seem to be coming down with something,”
“It's just allergies,” I lied.
“Oh, allergies are the worst!” she laughed. I nodded with my half smile.

After some more preparations, she left; I was alone in the house. I felt lonely. Isolated. But I kept telling myself that it was just a house. There shouldn't be any second thoughts. The money was too good. It was...

Just a house I can never come back to.

Mar 17, 2013

Damn. It feels good to be a gangster

Thanks for the crit! I always had the problem of either having nothing happening (like now) or everything happening (and hopelessly confusing the reader). I'll work on it some more

Mar 17, 2013

Damn. It feels good to be a gangster

I'm in. With Another Place, Another Time image and quote.

Mar 17, 2013

Damn. It feels good to be a gangster

My entry, using the Another Place, Another Time picture. I figured that this should be whimsical (since the picture gave me a "Miyazaki" vibe, particularly Spirited Away, and that film is full of magic and whimsy, with a few exceptions), but I don't know how well I did that.

The Wind Charts
Word count: 797 (800 with title)

The book floated along the river bank before being spotted by the boys. It was old, that much they could tell before grabbing its soaked spine. Rubbing away the mud, the cover read in big bold letters "Across the Four Winds: Charting the Unknown". The boys discovered something they rarely found in books: pictures! And big ones too! However, the waters did their damage and washed out the text on the pages. This presented a challenge, one that the boys eagerly jumped at. How hard can it be reading a book? With pictures, at that!

After several failed attempts at understanding the wordless book, they decided to take it to the smartest person they knew: Michael, the boat repairman of the island.

At Michael's house, they had to explain what happened several times before he understood what they found. He took one look at the dripping book and frowned. It was not the first time the boys consulted him on what they found in the river. Usually what they found belonged in the trash. This time would be no different, Michael thought. Wordless book, indeed!

Yet, when Michael read the title of the book, he grew excited. He flipped through the pages and started to smile. The boys never saw him like this; usually Michael would look at their discovery and sigh loudly. Michael turned around and explained to the boys that what they had was a book of wind charts! Michael told them that if the book had its words, then people would be able to predict when, where and how strong the winds would go! Everyone could sail across the waters according to the charts, instead of build rails to sail on (and pay that ridiculous rail fee)! More ways to sail meant more boats, which meant more business! However, since the water washed out the words, the book was useless to anyone curious enough to read it. Unless...

He told them that they had to go see the Book Menders, at Castletown. If anyone knew what the book said, it would be them! The boys got excited; they haven't been in Castletown forever, they told Michael. He looked outside at his flags; they were waving to the west. He told them to get ready quickly, before the wind dies out. The boys ran back home and packed what they thought they needed. They told their mother that they were going to Castletown. She grew excited and wanted to come along, much to the boys' dismay.

Michael just slid the book into the cart and lashed on the sails for the hour long journey. The boys came back, with a fully loaded pack and their mother. She wanted to go to Castletown to shop for more vegetables and clothes for the boys. Michael sighed and looked at his small sail cart. The cart could hold four people, but with little elbow room to spare.

After the longest hour of hearing about how the boys are growing up so fast, Michael dropped off the boys and their mother as quick as he could. He carried the book under his arm to the Hall of Book Menders in the heart of town. The Menders looked at the book with keen eyes. They knew that what Michael carried could change the way Castletown traveled to and from the isles. The Menders told him that they would need more time, since the water damage was severe. They needed special ingredients from the south to properly restore the book, they told him.

A day passed. A day turned into a week. A week into two. Two into a month. A month into a season. A season until...

Michael received a letter from the Menders. They restored the book! Michael rushed back to Castletown. At the Hall, the Menders gave Michael back the newly restored book. They told him that they needed to give a copy of the charts to the King, as expected from such an important discovery. Michael looked at the pages for the first time in months. The charts told him of where the wind would go and how fast it would take. He smiled. Now his business would grow, because everyone would want a boat to sail in!

At first, when official word got out that the winds could be predicted, everyone bought a new boat on the island. Michael's repair business flourished! But after some time, more and more people started to open up their own boat repair business. And, in the end, Michael's business didn't grow much at all. It became too busy competing with the newer boat repairmen on the island to grow.

The boys, having completely forgotten about their discovery last season, were busy learning how to sail in their very own boat.


Mar 17, 2013

Damn. It feels good to be a gangster

Kaishai posted:

Chewie23, "The Wind Charts":

'The book floated along the river bank before being spotted by the boys.' Making this your first line sets up the book, not the boys, to be your protagonist; you should probably rephrase it. 'Rubbing away the mud, the cover read in big bold letters'--this is a dangling participle, meaning your participle ('rubbing') modifies the wrong noun ('cover'). You're telling me the cover rubbed off its own mud. Nice trick! (I kind of want to read about a sentient book now.)

Your tenses are all over the place. 'The waters did their damage and washed out the text on the pages'--unless that's happening as the boys watch, you want to say 'The waters had done their damage and had washed out the text on the pages.' You should use 'could,' not 'can,' in 'How hard can it be reading a book?' With 'It was not the first time the boys consulted him,' you should say instead 'the boys had consulted him.' Watch for this, because you do it a lot; I'm not pointing to all the examples here.

Leaving out dialogue and reporting it all secondhand is the equivalent of telling, not showing, everything Michael said. I don't recommend this! I don't recommend quite so many exclamation marks either! Those would probably be fine if they were in dialogue, though!

Why do the boys go to Castletown at all? Michael drops them off--but where? The book is theirs, and I expected them to take it to the Book Menders with Michael along for the ride. Now Michael's looking like your main character. You should probably rearrange your opening so that it's from his perspective. Have the boys rush in and shove the book at him; show its ruination through his eyes.

The finale is anticlimactic, but it sort of suits the whimsical mood you wanted.

I don't think you quite got there--the story read to me more like you were trying to do children's fiction and trying too hard, with the exclamation points especially--but it isn't charmless. It does remind me a bit of the only Miyazaki film I've seen. Whether it would have if you hadn't mentioned that, I don't know, but I kind of doubt it; I don't dislike the piece regardless, though I think it could be better. You did a nice job with the picture and the prompt.

Good stuff, Kaishai. I'm starting to get a feel for these short fiction pieces now, since before I never had much experience with word limits. I'll try to tighten up my tenses and ending(s).

Also, should I include what I was shooting for in my pieces (like mentioning Miyazaki) or leave it out in future TD writing? It seemed that I colored your expectation when I mentioned Miyazaki, and I can't decide if that is a good or bad thing for me

  • Locked thread