Monday, November 08, 2004

Nano:Day 8 -- Yes, I'm still here

A funny thing happened Friday night. I smashed my finger in a door, causing it to become completely useless for typing. I didn't do it on purpose. Honest. That said, I haven't written for the last two days, and am way behind in my word count. Its a bit better right now, so I'm going to gun for a couple thousand words tonight. I'll post a bit from last weeks writing in the interim. By the way, blogger does strange things to the text when I cut and paste from word. Hmm.


Run down buildings and hovels badly in need of paint lined the streets of the poor quarter, housing that only the downtrodden or those down on their luck would care to afford. While the section wasn’t very large--owing to the citys prosperity--it did have a sharp edge to it. Children played in the dirt or ran screaming through the trash littered streets; older males peered at them with unfriendly eyes on stoops or from front yards. Fred and Dundee felt conspicuously out of place, Fred in his pin striped suit and greatcoat, Dundee in his leather and crocodile skin.
Fred stopped outside a pawn shop, approximating the location that the aforementioned thief had requested directions leading to. Nodding to Dundee, Fred entered the shop as the Treasure Hunter moved out according to plan: Fred’s role spending time inconspiculously in the business while Dundee scouted the surrounding alleyway and reported back.
The inside of the shop was dingy, the smeared windows letting in little of the late afternoon sun as Fred hesitated in the doorway for a moment, his eyes quickly adjusting to the low light. Hanging above the door was a bell that had rung shrilly as Fred pushed open and closed the door. The proprietor noisily cleared his throat, acknowledging Fredericks presencse.
Avoiding his gaze for the moment, Fred decided to make a show of browsing about. Taking a tentative step forward onto a dingy, almost threadbare throw rug, he scanned the interior layout of the shop. Almost jungle-like in appearance, there were three clear paths, two hugging the walls on either side of the room and one bisecting the center. Wall and celing decorations seemed to drape over the room like foliage, and assorted tropical and deciduous plantlife lent to the look of overgrown forest.
Where he stood the fibers of the rug were worn down to the lining, presumably from the countless other feet that had stood here and made the same observations he had. There were various assorted items adorning the entire store, hung from ceiling and wall, heaped up on tables and floor. All available space was filled with some oddity or other, and most of it looked cheap to his critical eye. He wrinkled his nose at the musty smell and thick, filthy scent of old cigar smoke permeating the establishment. A shiny object caught his eye and he turned his head, slowly leaving the carpet at the entrance and following a faint path that disappeared as he began treading on a different specimen of carpet, leaving a few footprints behind from the dust and dirt of the street. This particular rug was decorated with an elaborate oriental pattern, strange swirls and foreign runes decorating its brightly hued colors.
On the table in front of him were various knickknacks and assorted useless ceramics, the kind that would decorate the lobby of a cheap hotel or the souvenier case of a home. Lining the near wall was unfinished or marked and beaten up furniture—mostly chairs--that were all labeled with a crudely hand lettered sign, “antiques.” Brushing his hand against a collection of chimes hanging from the celing, Fred made his way over to a pile of battered, rusty chests and cases in the southwest corner as the faint tinkling of the chimes followed him. As he tested the lock on one particular weather battered trunk, the proprietor broke the tomblike stuffy silence of the store.
“It’s locked. They all are.”
Fred nodded absently and continued to browse, sparing a quick glance over in the direction of the pawn shop owner. Sitting behind a screened in desk, the man was disgustingly wide and filled out the area admirably, his white tank top smeared with stains from, Fred presumed, lunch a few hours ago. Most of his hair covered his arms and chest, his bald pate dull with sweat in the stuffy room. He cleared his throat again—a harsh, disgusting rolling sound, like a stick being pulled out of mud-- and, as if on cue, began rummaging in a drawer next to his desk, pulling out a fat silver foil wrapped cigar and green glass ashtray. Turning his attention back to a particularly awful painting by some unknown artist, Fred cocked his head sideways to match the skewed angle it hung at and attempted to decipher what, precisely, a thick curly black squiggle was doing in the middle of a river. At least, he thought it was a river. It could also be the sky inverted. Maybe it wasn’t the sky at all, but a pack of badgers parachuting into a hot spring. The sound of a flame flared up and died, and the big man began puffing on the stogie.
“Hey you. C’mere,” he growled around the thick cigar.
Fred carefully picked his way over, stepping over a wilting poinsettia and ducking under a gaudy pink chandelier which hung very low from the ceiling. A hanging tassel caught in his face and he spluttered it out, picking out the strands and dust that caught in his teeth.
“You gonna muck around all day, or are ya gonna pawn something?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize there was a rush. By all means, let your other patrons go first.”
Baldy flicked grey ash from the end of the cigar and stuck it back in the corner of his mouth.
“Smartass. There ain’t no hurry. But you’s looking like you’s a seller, not a buyer. I gotta strict no loitering policy, see?” He gestured forward over the counter at the misspelled “NO LOITURING” sign that hung tacked onto the wooden desk.
“Fair enough,” Fred relented, searching through his pockets for something to play at pawning with.
“How’s this?” He said, solemnly placing the gold pocket watch on the counter. Baldy cracked his knuckles loudly and smirked, depreciatingly.
“It’s crap.”
Fred looked appalled. “This is an antique! More so than that garbage over there,” he said, gesturing at the antiques sign and the various junk oddities it labeled.
Loudly snorting the mucous out of his nose and into the back of his throat, Baldy leaned closer, squinting at the watch. His breath smelled like rotten fish and he whistled loudly through his nostrils as he inhaled, his lungs working laboriously around his generous bulk.
“I’ll give you 3 for it.”
Fred guffawed, beginning to warm up to the bartering.
“It’s worth 10 times that. No deal.” He extended his arm as if to take the watch back off the desk and return it to his pocket.
Scratching at his left nostril with a dirty fingernail, Baldy made a noise of dissent.
“Make me an offer.”

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

NaNo Day 2 1/2 -- Yarr!

After having a great start Monday, yesterday was a wake-up call. I had a really tough time writing, and got stuck a number of times far short of my writing goal. The election didn't help much either. But, I did manage to hit my goal and am plodding along towards another 2k today.
I'm not going to post anything I did last night yet, maybe later. This fight scene with an as-yet unintroduced character is pretty good though, so I'll put that up for now.


Sang slammed the butt end of the staff down again, the rings of metal on its end clanging together and chiming.
“Look old man, I’m in a terrible rush here,” began Fred, already sick of the stupid ringing bells on the end of the staff and wanting terribly to take it away and club the old man with it.
“Bwahahahah!” interrupted the red-cheeked old man, laughing loudly and bawdily.
“No wine, no problem!” he slurred.
“Wait. That doesn’t make sense. Are you or aren’t you?”
“You go bring me my wine now,” said Sang again, with a wink. Tucking his staff underneath the backside of his left arm, he stood on one slightly bent leg the other extended and bent with his foot resting on the knee, arm positioned in front of him and slightly crooked with two fingers pointing up, unwavering.
Wondering how the old man managed to hold that position, completely sloshed as he was, Fred began poking through the bushes, looking for the lost jug of rice wine. The blasted thing had to have fallen out somewhere nearby he mused to himself. Dammit, if only he had been watching where he was going. Now he had a broken cart and a runaway mule to deal with. A few steps further into the underbrush and he had the jug, a red rounded beehive looking container with a stopper in one end. Fred pulled the plug and inhaled, a little too deeply. Whew! Rubbing his singed nose hairs with one hand and replugging the jug of foul smelling liquid, he stood up quickly, branches from the overhanging trees painfully grabbing at his hair. He wobbled slightly from the remnants of the fumes, and then began making his way out of the underbrush. Bursting forth onto the path, his shout of triumph died on his lips. The ‘broken’ cart was halfway down the road, Sing in tow, gleefully cackling. Fred noticed the majority of his supplies piled in the back of the cart. “Hey! HEY!” he screamed, dashing after the disappearing cart. Sing glanced over his shoulder, startled, then whipped the mule, urging it to run faster. Fred smirked. Obviously he knew nothing about this particular stubborn breed of jackass. After the first lash cracked the mule bleated, then ground to a halt. No amount of cajoling would persuade the animal to continue. Fred ran up alongside the cart breathless, and yanked his rapier from its sheath, leveling it up at the old man perched in the drivers seat of the cart.
“Ohohohoho. Don’t think you want to be doing that,” leered Sang, swaying slightly in the seat. His eyes widened when he saw the jug.
“My wine! Good good, you give it here.”
“Don’t think so, cart thief. I suggest you disappear before I run you through.”
Sang feigned a shocked look. “Mymymy, I was merely returning the Ass and Cart to the nearby village, where I would lodge it for the night!”
“Bullshit. The nearest town is 50 miles out. It would take days.”
“Yes, well. Lets trade, neh? I’ll trade you this fine cart and donkey for ride to the nearest town. And that wine you have there,” beamed Sang.
“Uh, hello? That’s MY cart, and MY donkey. I found the wine, even! I’ve got a better deal. You pick up your stupid little stick and hit the road before I toss you into the dirt.”
Sang wagged his finger at Fred, taunting him.
“Ah ah ah! My offer very generous. You take, or you be the one begging for seat in back.”
Fred almost thought twice before thrusting the point of the sword at the old man, intuition sounding a faint warning. The blow was aimed at the thieves leg, intending to cripple him. But, even before he began the motion, Sang’s leg was no longer there. In a blur the old man was airborne, body straight and spinning towards Fred, his staff flicking out and slamming down on the rapiers edge with a loud clanging. Surprised that the blade hadn’t broken, Fred staggered back, regaining his balance and setting his feet and guard.
Sang shuffled towards him, swaying slightly with the motion. Fred feinted a low attack with the rapier, then lunged forward, thrusting at Sang’s chest, which, oddly enough, had disappeared. The old man had dropped to the ground like a stone before Fred had even began the motion, and was lying on his back, head propped up under one elbow, legs crossed. Like a snake Sangs legs shot out, one foot hooking behind Freds and the other pushing forcefully on his knee. Suddenly Fred found himself on his back, staring up at the sky. Before he could leap to his feet, the ringed end of Sangs staff was leveled at his head.
“Touche” muttered Fred as Sang shook the staff at him, the metal rings jingling infuriatingly. Sang giggled.
“New deal. I get wine, passage to nearby town, and you buy chicken dinner.”
Fred pulled himself slowly to his feet, grumbling all the while. At least he had his cart back. He’d never seen anyone move like the old drunkard. Was the intoxication all just an act, to get Fred to underestimate him and drop his guard? He turned, facing the cart, to observe Sang already perched in the back, noisily pulling at the red jug of rice wine. He belched loudly and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.
“Hurry up! Gogogo!”
Fred muttered and cursed his luck for the third time that day as he coaxed the stubborn donkey forward, trying to ignore the incessantly hiccupping old man in the back of the cart.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Nano: Day 1 -- Enter Fred

Hokay! I'm stopping today at: 2061! W00t.
Now for the DISCLAIMER: This is cut and pasted directly from my writing. Meaning, there's no editing AT ALL. I've shut my internal critic up in a little box and mailed him off to Honolulu for vacation. As such, there's all kinds of stuff in here that makes me wince everytime I even scroll past it. So gentle :)

Second disclaimer, this isn't everything I wrote. I got bored with this and went off and wrote a fight scene with another character. Maybe I'll post that tomorrow, heh.

Fred sat heavily at his desk and gazed forlornly at the column of numbers and figures on the sheet of paper before him. "Freddie!" shouted his boss’s wife, coincidentally his third cousin on mother's uncle's side. "After you're finished computing the morning’s balances, take out the garbage and polish Master Paulson’s shoes!" Fred groaned. Another day of boredom, another day of meaningless numbers and humilitating footwear buffing. He tried to do the calculations, the numbers failing to add up as he cursed the day he accepted the job. For the umpteenth time that day his thoughts wandered off to the night last week at the tavern, and the storyteller who had painted a picture of exciting adventure and fortune. A life as far removed as this as you could get, Fred muttered under his breath, scrapping his calculations and leaning back in his chair. Glancing out the small window adjacent his desk, he observed that lunchtime was only a short while away, judging by the suns position in the sky. Old man Paulson’s shoes could wait until his belly was full of whatever was roasting on Maddy’s spit at the tavern and a tall pint of ale Fred convinced himself. Pushing back his chair quietly, so as not to disturb the Mrs., he slung his coat over his shoulders and snuck down the stairs and went out through the bank’s lobby.
The autumn air was chilly, and Fred was glad of the coat as he stepped onto the street. It was fairly busy, the noonday shoppers and businessmen alike in force, many seeking lunch as he was. Fred threaded his way through the hustle and bustle and made his way to Maddy’s Bar and Grill on the streetcorner. He nearly tripped over a poor, rag clad soul on the way. Fred recognized him as the local beggar, Apple Core Man. While most beggars plied their trade in behest of monetary recompense, this individual pleaded for seeds, of all things. His favorites were those of fruit trees and the like, and Fred had saved various rinds and such from his noonday meals for Mr. Core often enough in the past, to recognize and greet him as he passed.
“Please, Goodman, spare a pear!” pleaded the beggar.
“Well, Mr. Core! This isn’t you’re usual spot I daresay. Aren’t you usually further down, in front of the Blacksmithys?”
Apple core gave no indication that he recognized Fred, as he ever did.
“Aye, I’ll try to save you a core from my midday meal, if you like.”
Giving no heed that he had heard him, Mr. Core continued to plead with passersby for fruit, his arm palm up extending from his ragged clothing. Fred shrugged and pushed his way into Maddy’s, already near full of hungry patrons. The low, cheerful fire in the hearth and the steady background noise of conversation was a comfort, and Fred briskly rubbed his hands together to take the chill out. Making his way up to the bar, he caught the eye of one of the serving girls; a comely young lass in tight bodice and frilly skirt. She nodded acknowledgement and Fred took in the surroundings as he waited for her to make her way over and take his order.
The musician in the corner stummed his guitar, providing background music for lunchtime. Obviously it wasn’t a piano player, as this is not a ritzy, suit and tie 500 dollar a plate dinner, but your average bar and grill where people go to have a good time and enjoy the food.
One of the patrons at the bar raised his voice over the din in an angry shout.
“I ordered the steak! NOT a sandwich!” he roared, startling the patrons sitting next to him.
“Sir,” the serving girl started in, “that IS a steak.”
The gentlemen grumbled and harrumphed, then peered closer at the plate until his nose was touching it, his drooping white mustachios swimming in the juices of the meat.
“Arr. So it is, so it is.”
He pulled his big hat off, ringed with crocodile teeth in the band, pulled a fork from underneath his vest and dug in, making appreciative slurping noises. She rolled her eyes and made her way over to Fred.
“Hey, Freddie. What’ll it be?”
Fred winced. “Ah, the usual Maisy.”
“Roight, pastrami on wheat, mayo, cheese no crust with an apple, right?”
Fred grinned and nodded assent.
“Coming right up,” she said, reaching under the bar for a mug and filling a pint.
“How’s work going?”
Fred groaned.
“That bad, eh? Well don’t let the witch get you down. The day’s half over right? Then you can come back ‘round again for drinks,” she said with a wink.
Fred grinned stupidly, then took a swig of ale as she moved on to take the next order. There was something odd about the man with the crocodile tooth hat, Fred mused as he nursed his ale. It might’ve been the six inch long knife he picked at his teeth with, or the bleary eyed way he peered about the room, but there was something unusual about the fellow.