Part of the point of this blog experiment, is to practice often, away from any serious drafts, in an effort to make those projects better. But practice sounds so obligatory. And when I have to practice something, I’d rather do it with friends. Anyone out there want to play along?
When I was a kid , we went everywhere by public transit, and to pass the time, I would dream up what people’s lives on the bus were like. Why is that woman’s face so hard? What is that man looking so fervently for in his bag? Is that person, muttering to themselves, distracted and thoughtful (like my dad)? Or are they operating on a different plane? Are they dangerous?
I still like to contemplate the contrast of what you see on the exterior vs. What is really going on inside. If I don’t know your story, I’ll make one up.
Following this concept, set the timer for 10-15 minutes and see what comes out. Then share your efforts in the comments. We’re not going for polished here, just let loose and have fun. I was inspired by the tough guy exterior of a police officer. Here is my (un-edited) practice:
Jim rounded the corner slowing his steady clip. Dasher, his loyal hound, was sniffing something out under the Talister’s forsythia. As Dasher sniffed, Jim allowed himself a moment of childish fantasy; He was on a case that had long gone cold, but he, Jim Longhorn head honcho in homicide, had a hunch. His partner Dasher, the only one he deigned to work with, had picked up a scent. Under that budding forsythia in the wet spring mist, Dasher emerged with a piece of cloth; red, torn, and with a frayed embroidered ‘M’ in the corner. Jim reached down and took the clue and slipped it into a ziplock. “Good Dog”.
As Jim gingerly patted Dasher’s head, he was transported back to reality and saw what was really interesting his dog. It was a small red ball, made grubby by its hiatus in the bushes. Jim took it into his red chapped hands and led Dasher round the bushes to the front of the Talister home.
Billy Talister was hopping on one foot in a circle, his back pack sagging down apparently trying to topple Billy’s five year old frame. His mother was in the foyer calling out morning reminders through the open front door. Did Billy have his book for library day? Did he remember Nan was picking him up? Jim watched this morning dance like an anthropologist, trying to understand this culture of a family and its complex customs. His thoughts were shaken when Billy’s hopping turned him to face Jim.
“Dasher! Hi Mr. Longhorn”.
“Hi Billy, thats some fancy footwork there!”
Billy stopped hopping. His mom poked her head out the door.”Oh, good morning Jim.”
“Morning Mrs. Talister, Dasher and I were just out for our walk, but he got a little nosey in your bushes there and came out with this.” He held up the red ball to Billy.
“Oh Thanks! I been looking for that!”
Jim tossed the ball, relishing his glimpse into Life As A Father: Tossing the ball around with your boy.
“Thanks Jim. How’s Lydia?” Mrs. Talister asked.
“Pretty good, this rounds been a bit hard on her though.”
“Well, if you guys need anything…”
“Ah, that’s ok Mrs.T. Thanks, but we’ll manage. Always do.”
“Well,” she managed a weak smile before her gaze shifted to the car, then to Billy, whose back pack was now off and open on the driveway.
“Oh Billy! C’mon, get that zipped up. We have to go.” She turned back to Jim, “We’ve got to get going, but thanks for bringing Billy’s ball, and send our best to Lydia.”
“Will do Mrs.T. Thanks.”
“Are you going to catch some bad guys today Mr.Longhorn?”
“You bet Billy!”
Dasher and Jim stood on the sidewalk of Maker Street waving the Talister car off with a smile, but Jim’s smile fell as the car disappeared leaving them alone in the unnerving quiet of suburbia. Dasher nudged him on by the lead and Jim headed home, steeling himself for another day in the squad car, directing the boys to calls and sending the rookie for his coffee.