April 28, 2010

"I took a weekend class at NYU on speed fiction."

"The instructor would hold up a picture or postcard for 20 seconds or so. Then the class would write a short story about what they saw — in five minutes."

Great idea! Okay, here:

Striped wall with tulips

Quick now! Time yourself! 5 minutes!

70 comments:

Oligonicella said...

You *paid* for that?

raf said...

"As she looked up at the dresser, she wondered if he had left any money on it."

wv: derdlex. Okay,I get the "lex," I mean, sure, words and all, but why is is calling me a 'derd'?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Without completing the story, my plot has to to with a women midget who is staying at a rustic resort. She doesn't mind that the doorknob is always at eye level. That can't be helped because after all you can't build an entire house in miniature scale. But for God's sake, why can't they at least take her short situation into consideration and put the mirror at eye level too.

She also suspects that the circus tent theme in the room that she has been assigned has some subliminal derogatory implications with circuses.

As a result of these shortcomings (yuk yuk) our midget heroine, kills the innkeeper. No one suspects her because of her diminutive stature and this encourages her to embark on a very successful career of crime and mayhem

2 1/2 minutes.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

ahem I meant derogatory to circus midgets. Thats what happens when you rush.

Class factotum said...

When Suzy saw the vase of tulips on the sideboard, so beautifully reflected in the mirror, she wondered if she had been too hasty in knocking her boyfriend out with a frozen salmon for forgetting her birthday, even though she had had the date circled, with little arrows and a heart, on his calendar for months.

Then she saw on the card that the flowers were from her mother, so she got a can of cream of mushroom soup and hit him again.

Lem said...

There once was a popular blogger that went to Cincinnati.. except her readers did not know this.

She posted pictures from where she was while still very mysterious.

One picture had a mouse trap... little did we know ;)

AJ Lynch said...

Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I look around and realize I don't know where I am but I have seen this room before. I may have been in this room before.

America is a big country but even so there is no way it has another room anywhere with this same combination of paneling and color.

Quayle said...

It was getting obvious, she thought. They'll find out any moment.

But the simple fact was that she didn't want to be with the others any more.

Still, she didn't exactly want them to know it.

On the other hand, it was going to come out soon anyway, but why not now?

Maybe I can just vanish suddenly, she thought. I'll slip out and who cares what they say about me after that.

If I could just reach the door, maybe I could get it open somehow.....

Lincolntf said...

5 minutes, eh? That's not going to be easy. I suppose I'll have to really concentrate and that I'll still come up with some sort of "Once upon a time" crap. Here foes nothing.

tooclass said...

FIRST TIME COMMENTER

And suddenly, it hit him. The white door knob, the carved wood dresser, the mason jar.

“Could I really have overlooked this?” he muttered to himself.

Struggling, he reached out and opened the top left drawer. What he saw next made him stumble. He steadied himself on the dresser.

“You just couldn’t stop looking could you?” A voice echoed down the long hall, adorned by blue and white wooden pickets.
“You should have left it be back at the diner.”

“Ann?” He spoke in utter confusion.

“But...how..I thought”

“For a eye doctor, you sure are blind.” She said, cutting him off.

“And now, an eye for an eye, as they say.”

“Ann, don’t” But the pistol shot drowned out his plea.

“No, no, no.” Said Ann.

“The red just RUINS this color scheme.”

Lem said...

It was raining outside.

Bob Vila was late as usual.. we went ahead setting up the cameras when he showed up telling us there wasn't going to be any taping that day.. his granny had died.

We told him we didn't need him for the demo part.. he told us to save some for him.

this story should be longer but I cant think of anything else along the Bob Vila line.. it started as a joke.

Lincolntf said...

My view was interesting. At first I thought I was in a garden. Flowers stand out, even when you don't know where you are. I wasn't sure I'd fallen I just knew I was on the ground. After a minute or two of being aware I saw the dresser and knew where I was. Her floor was hard under my back, I must've missed the throw rug by an inch or two.
Not sure why she hit me, or what that sound was afterwards, but I don't think she's here anymore. Probably gone back to the office, but then why the suitcase? Better not to worry about it. Gonna get some sleep, once I figure out what's all wet under my....

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lincolntf said...

I posted that without even re-reading it. Kept it no longer than 5 minutes to the second. Now I'll go see what it says.

Lem said...

Honest Abe slept here.

garage mahal said...

If I were the town drunk, and frequently woke up in unfamiliar dwellings, such as this, I would think "shit, this place ain't half bad!".

Class factotum said...

She awoke and saw the tulips. "How can it be?" she thought. "He is the only one who ever brought me tulips."

She drifted back to her youth, remembering the day he had asked her to marry him, there, in the meadow behind the barn, and then the day when he left for the war.

She remembered the day when he returned home, alive. And his excitement at showing her his acrobatic tricks as he flew the biplane over the same meadow where he had proposed.

And the day when he had crashed that plane into the meadow as she and their two daughters watched.

She had remarried, had two more children, had a dozen grandchildren, had had a happy life, but he was always her one true love.

He was the one who brought her tulips.

She opened his eyes and saw him before her, handsome, young. "Come," he said. "It is time."

Trooper York said...

I lay in bed as the strange sensations caused by the magic morels we had consumed coursed through my veins.

I stare at the tulips that he had brought me along with the collected works of Walt Whitman and the small jar of scented KY that sits on top of the dresser.

How did I end up here?

Why did my life take this turn?

I was so happy with my life of terrorizing pimply undergraduates and accepting the accolades of lonely middle aged men with my photos of misshapen flower and urinating dogs.

I am hungry.

I have appetites that need to be satiated.

What happens next?

HDHouse said...

is there a comma missing after the word speed?

Lincolntf said...

Those are really good.
Sort of similar in some strange ways for such an unemotional and frankly boring picture.
Maybe that's why most everyone went with the internal dialogue?

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo said...

True story, actually.
So it doesn't count.

Janis Gore said...

"Yikes," Grizzy said. "I thought that f****r was OCD, but this is ridiculous. Look at those stripes."

"Yeah," Parker replied, "It's groovy."

"Parker, man, do you see any cobwebs? Look at that polish. Let's get the hell out of here."

And Grizzy and Parker scurried on their sixteen legs past the tulips and back to the barn.

ironrailsironweights said...

She walked into the room with the tulips and took a long look at herself in the mirror. Slowly, her gaze dropped to the razor held in her right hand, and a feeling of disgust spread through her body. "No," she thought to herself, "I simply cannot bring myself to shave. Sorry, pedophiles."

Peter

rcocean said...

This seems to be like "Speed Dating" only much less fun.

I'll pass.

Trooper York said...

Janis Gore flagged the diesel down with her dirty red bandanna. She sang every song that driver knew. They were getting along so well.

So they stopped at a little bed and breakfast in the wee small hours of the morning. They made wild crazy love till the tulips wilted on the dresser from the steam. She slipped a pill into the glass of water on the night stand.

When he was well and truly out, she took a pillow and held it over his head until he stopped breathing. That would be end of his carbon foot print.

The polar bears will live.

JAL said...

It was a bright and sunny morning ...

WV aestica
This exercise. Those tuplips.

JAL said...

Errr ... that's tulips.

But I kinda like tuplips better.

MamaM said...

Hmmmm... this is one way to flush out Titus. Like looking for Waldo. Trooper's 1st edition style seems a close match. Almost but not quite as fabulous.

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

So this is part of the life of a man worth a !,000 mile drive. Everything seems formally rustic. Now, if we can agree on the tractor issues and the ball caps he wears in public, then our internet love could blossom as the tulips do. He had better appreciate a 1,000 mile ride in an Audi TT and offer to rub my knees and lower back. He is intelligent in many areas...I have some Big Plans to Make!

Donald Douglas said...

American Power tracked-back with, 'Irvine Ralphs Beehive'.

Trooper York said...

MamaM was the real head of the family. She stared balefully down the table at the skanky prostitution whore who had brought that disgusting book to the family table.

“Let me tell you one thing about my family. We are as thick as thieves. You can’t get between us. You can never win.”

Danielle’s plastic surgery Chinese eyes glinted in the candle light. “You say that now but let me tell you something MamaM…..”

But her witty reply was interrupted when Theresa turned over the table. “It must be true…where there’s smoke there’s fire….let me at her….BITCH…..PROSTITUTION WHORE!!!!”

Chaos. Shouting. Melee. Debris.

Who will pay the check? They were forced to leave. The couple sharing a hamburger and a small glass of wine had complained to the manager.

They didn’t want to lose their business.

You see this isn't New Jersey. Things are different in Madison Wisconsin.

ricpic said...

"Barak!"

"Yes, hon?"

"This, this room!"

"What about it, hon?"

"I agreed to be your beard. I agreed to put up with your limp wristed ways and 'friends.' And I agreed to stifle during the campaign."

"I'm sorry, hon, I still don't get what you're driving at."

"In exchange, Barak, in exchange?"

"Please, hon, it's been a long day of lies."

"First class, Barak. First class!"

"First class, hon?"

"Crystal chandeliers. Looey Qatorze. Plush carpets. Boatloads of roses...Not this crap!!"

"Crap, hon? I don't......"

"NO MORE MIDDLE CLASS HOLIDAYS!!!"

ricpic said...

Damn. That should be: "NO MORE MIDDLE CLASS VACATIONS!!!"

Kirstin said...

I think the rule of thumb is that cut flowers are only supposed to be one and a half times as high as the vase.

(Sorry, I just don't write fiction.)

edutcher said...

Ishmael looked up from the floor and his first gaze met the tulips reflected in the mirror. Whoever the girl had been, she'd taken him as well as a man could be. His pants, included.

Well, she was obviously afraid of pursuit, but, then, anyone who had heard of his near death in the South Seas, the loss of all hands, the sight of the ship battered to bits would not want the only man left, a man so very hard to kill, after them, either.

Searching the place, all there was to wear was a woman's apron. Without hesitation, he wrapped it around him and set out down Bleeker Street after her. It wasn't just the pocketbook and his gold watch, the only thing of his to survive the ship sinking. She'd promised something good to eat and some brandy and, on that she delivered, but the "treat" she offered...

By damn, he'd get that, too.

Lem said...

Are those pinstripes on the wall mother?.. You know what they mean. I would soon as sleep in a park.

Don't make a fuss son, its only for one night..

Its bad luck mother.. I see pinstripes everywhere.

Mother, Did you know the Yankees have only won when there was a democrat in the White House?

Obama's given them another 3 chances... I hope you are happy having voted for him.

Michael said...

I left the door ajar and went directly to the sideboard where I had left my half made drink. It had the good ice from the old trays and the ice cracked when I poured in the gin. I looked across to the chest with the tulips and the lights reflected in the mirror flickered as the air conditioners came full on and I took a long pull of the gin and added more and then some tonic and the ice popped again. I waited five minutes and when she didn't come I finished my drink and crossed the room. I put the empty glass down on the chest in the same white ring I had made the last time I went through this with her. I pushed the door closed.

Scott said...

Sunlight streamed through the window of our little room in the bed and breakfast. I looked up at the fresh tulips in the Mason jar on the dresser. It's amazing that the water they were in wasn't frozen, it was so damn cold. The air in the room smelled like fresh linen, accented with a whiff of cow shit. Ah, Vermont.

I held my bride closer, felt her fluffy skin with my rough hands. "Good morning sweetheart."

"Morning," she said.

=====

I don't write fast. :)

Peter V. Bella said...

So there I was. Badly hung over. Looking for the elephant that slept on my chest and the lion that shit in my mouth.

My head felt like some one was pounding a base drum inside. It hurt to open my eyes. When I finally got through the pain I saw the tulips.

I knew something was very wrong. I scanned around. This is not my bedroom.

As I tried to move, I realized there was someone else in the bed with me. She lay there breathing quietly...

To be continued.

Trooper York said...

I met him after the game and went with him to his room at the boutique hotel outside of town. He didn't want anyone to know he was with me. But I was content.

I stared at the tulips on the dresser as he sweated and grunted and rolled all over me. But nothing was happening. It was all so squalid and dirty.

Finally I had to speak.

"Please Big Papi.....what is the problem...why can't you come through when you are in scoring position."

He began to weep.

Janis Gore said...

Yes, Trooper thought, he'd done well.

The neutral vertical stripes had slimmed the room's dimensions and concealed flaws in the surface.

The pudgy chest had been buffed to a shine, and the splashy tulips had drawn attention to the face in the mirror.

"You rock," he said. The room looked like a well-dressed woman.

The photographers would arrive in half an hour.

MamaM said...

Trooper shifts and fidgets fitfully in his chair. He hates it when Mama starts sending baleful glances down the table. If there's any finger to be pointed, he hopes it will be directed at someone else. Anyone other than him. He's got no idea how that disgusting book ended up under his bed. He doesn't need those pictures to entertain himself. Not with a mind as full to the brim as his, crowning with all kinds of ideas. He knows how to entertain himself for hours and no one, not even Mama, has a clue as to what he's really doing.

Chaos. Shouting. Melee. Debris.

Just as the baleful eye is about to land on him, Theresa and Danielle draw it away with their fighting and drama. Trooper smiles a small secret smile. Someone has to pay the bill, and it won't be him. Not today. Mama shakes her head and sighs.

Lem said...

Big papi had missed his wife.. he had left her back home in the Dominican..

While in that room with a woman other than his wife he felt he was not cheating.. the woman had grown up in NYC.

Still he didn't want to wind up like Alex Rodriguez in the front page instead of the back page.

Trooper York said...

Big papi had missed his wife…… he had left her back home in the Dominican..

While in that room with a woman other than his wife he felt he was not cheating…... the woman had grown up in NYC.

Still he didn't want to wind up like Alex Rodriguez in the front page instead of the back page.

After all the scandal would be too much for him to bear. If he is caught with the girl with something extra, his family would disown him. It would be terrible if he was on the back page for getting it through the back door.

But he thought to himself…… it’s not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Red Sox nation would be pleased.

Perhaps he could finally get an endorsement.

David said...

Here's my plot.

After the class:

Speed dating . . .

Fast food . . . .

A quickie . . . .

A nap (rapid eye movement)

A fast getaway . . .

Brian Dunbar said...

"A vase of flowers," I thought. "Helluva thing for a dying man to stare at in his last five minutes on earth."

ricpic said...

Even naps are frantic nowadays. Discuss.

And who's Big Papi?

ricpic said...

How did I know before I saw a picture that Susan Bullock's adopted kid was a schvartze? It's the zeitgeist, stupid.

Lem said...

While the dreadful song "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing" played on the nightstand clock radio.. I read the instructions on the box..

I should have known what to do by hart by now, but the idea of having Big Papi's baby made me want to go through everything deliberately as if in a ritual.

Scott said...

Credit where credit is due: Roberta Allen taught the short course that I took at NYU that summer. She calls it "micro fiction" and has published several (small) anthologies of her work in the genre.

Regardless of what you think of the format, the technique is tremendously useful for getting your creative juices going.

ricpic said...

Barefoot merlot. The best. Under 6 bucks a boite. You heard it here first.

Lem said...

BTW - Hamlet is playing on PBS..

Picard is giving a speech.

Trooper York said...

While the dreadful song "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing" played on the nightstand clock radio….. I read the instructions on the box.

I should have known what to do by heart by now, but the idea of having Big Papi's baby made me want to go through everything deliberately as if in a ritual.

I did not know that I was already filled with his child. When I sat on the toilet and strained I did not know that a baby would flop out. How could that be? I didn’t even know I was pregnant. I did not gain any weight. I could have been on that TV show.

Plus there was no room, especially in the toilet.

After all, that is where Big Papi kept his career.

JAL said...

@ricpic

Trust us. It wasn't a MIDDLE CLASS VACATION.

Wonder which suite they stayed in? Or is there a Presidential One which doesn't make the page?

WestVirginiaRebel said...

The detective looked at the vase, noting that one of the tulips was bent, and that there were two yellow tulips mixed in with the purple ones. He frowned as he looked at the decor. "The interior decorator must have worked for the circus," he thought. But it was the woman's body on the floor which demanded his attention. She was smiling, still holding a digital camera in her hand. "Well, Ms. Althouse," the detective sighed, "I guess you died happy." Then he looked again at the pinstriped walls. "Although how in this place escapes me..."

MadisonMan said...

She didn't know how long she'd be in that room. Only that the door was stuck and wouldn't open. Was it a settling of the house that made the jamb skew? Did the Spring humidity make the door swell? Either way, she knew that the door wouldn't open, and the knob was just too flimsy to pull with all her might.

At least she had the flowers to look at. Maybe she'd be liberated from this prison before they wilted and died.

(2 minutes)

Ricardo said...

Blue, white, and gray,
Having a nice day.
Mirror reflecting light,
Having a nice night.
Tulips in a jar,
Reaching for a star.
Dresser all in brown,
Feeling kind of down.
No sign of a mouse,
Just homework from Althouse.

William said...

They say that everything that rises converges and that parallel lines never intersect. She sat in the room and waited for him. She did not know if they were mortal and entwined like flowers in a vase or like the parallel shades of gray that ran across the room in a pattern of infinite ennui. She sat by the door and ran the ridges of her finger against the fine, sharp blade of the knife. She was very patient.

William said...

They say that everything that rises converges and that parallel lines never intersect. She sat in the room and waited for him. She did not know if they were mortal and entwined like flowers in a vase or like the parallel shades of gray that ran across the room in a pattern of infinite ennui. She sat by the door and ran the ridges of her finger against the fine, sharp blade of the knife. She was very patient.

Almost Ali said...

"Just look at that door! It's older than dirt. It creeks to wake the dead! And it's the best room I could find in all of Deluth. When you come to town we'll have to get a motel.

Thanks for the flowers, but it's not 'me', it's the maniac landlady. 'No visitors' is what she said! And if you think the door is bad, you ought to hear the stairs, especially after midnight. Even worse the place is haunted!"

blogging cockroach said...

the happy cockroach in the victorian house

by b c

you know it s a victorian house
by the funny porcelain doorknobs
and the people are yuppies
by the period wallpaper
clawfoot bathtub
repro hardware
old gaslights
refinished 120 year
old furniture etc
all of which tells you they ve cleaned
up the pantry as best they could
but

nobody

could ever get an old pantry clean
and i bet it has a cooler in it too
yum
all the stuff spilled down old coolers
is great you can still make a great
midnight snack on the goo stuck
to the chicken wire on the bottom
and a flour bin how about a flour
bin they don t put those in soulless
modern houses no siree and i don't
believe in letting any of those
yummy antique pie fixins stuck in
the cracks go to waste

o for the joys of a victorian house
some people would think that it s meant for a mouse
as vermin they re pikers and easy to see
but nothing can tell you it s lived in like me

amba said...

That's one of the pictures from your first days and nights with Meade, or very similar to them. I couldn't write a story to beat that.

Brent said...

`

"Will you be needing anything else President Clinton?"

Lockestep said...

Cynthia hated hotel rooms. So much of her life had been spent travelling from one hotel to the next, city after city, state after state. No matter how beautifully management tried to dress the room, with tulips or towels of thick luxury, it was still soulless.
She stretched into the emptiness beside her, and let out a soft groan as her muscles stretched into wakefulness. Swinging her feet to the floor, Cynthia sat and regarded her image in the mirror. Another day begun.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

Sure, I like her on top. I can relax and think to myself like this, but these Cincinnatti women are screamers and I feel some bruises developing. Last night the gymnast was amazing and knocked down that mirror with her enthusiasm. God, please let that happen right now. I can use the moment to reposition those parts not already abused beyond recovery and maybe even end this and get to my Vicodin before South Park comes on.

Kazi said...

Cat sat outside the locked bathroom door while inside mistress absolved herself with her daily ablutions. She was less interested in the ritual splashing behind the door than she was of the unexpected foliage that graced the bureau. "It must have a taste" she thought to herself absently, although inside, her secret inside, the thought was an active plan hatching.

Cat knew she mustn't but she would.

Dating said...

I would think "shit, this place ain't half bad!".