Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The End of Innocence



Upon reflection and due consultation with m'learned friends ( see yesterday's comments), I've decided not to end the story just yet.
Comes to only 9500 words or so at that.
Can stand to be longer.
However, it is noteworthy because it contains the very first time a certain word - cover your eyes, Bonnie - has appeared in print under my palsied hand.
The internet corrupts, you know.
In fact, it's a word I've perhaps used only five or six times in my entire life. The first time, as I remember, distinctly, was toward one of those Neighbors-from-Hell.
I told him to go take a running... at a rolling donut.
Savannah said she was proud of me for branching out and taking up new challenges - she may change her mind.

They proceeded toward the car in the shadowed lane. The dew on the hood gleamed in the street light.

John fumbled for his keys, anticipating the closed warmth inside. He'd thrown a jacket in the back and there was a rug for Damie...

Instinct, training, nudged him.

He stopped, turned Damie around.

"We walk carefully and quietly away," he said in her ear.
"Handprints in the dew on the hood."

One step, two, three...

John hurled them both toward the weedy ditch.

The car blew up behind them.

When the sizzling, flying bits ceased, John raised himself and peered over his shoulder.

For plastic and steel it sure burned good.

"Fuck," he said eloquently.

"Damie, did I hurt you?" he said quietly to the body sheltered under him.

"Not any more than the first time..."

She wheezed. He was a big man.

He'd ceased being surprised by her sangfroid at the unexpected. He knew now that the trembling under him was adrenalin, not panic.

He eased his bulk off her, keeping his body low.

"A remote, for choice," said Damie, her voice a little tight but calm.
Cars didn't just explode by themselves coincidental to the approach of their owners.

Not without help.

That meant line of sight.

She made no effort to scramble up.

"Someone doesn't like us. You. Me. Or both. A pity I'm so visible," she added. "And you're not much better."

"I think," said John, "we'd best do hands and kneesies away down this ditch, as low as we can."

"How many?"

John remembered the old woman's catelogue of passers-by. Foreigners, she'd said. He hadn't taken it to mean anything but misanthropy at the time.

"Two...at least."

He seriously wondered about a third. A fat man, she'd said.

"Yes. You don't expect a fast response time, do you?"

"Not of the right kind. No. Penrith's about three miles away. But it'll take the village ten minutes to wonder what the bang was about, and another five to notice the glow, and longer to decide to ring up about it. And my freaking phone was in my jacket in the car. Meanwhile..."

"Meanwhile, someone or two might decide to come along and finish what they started?"

"Yes," said John reluctantly. "I'm afraid, my lady, we are hunted."

Badges and bull's eyes: badges and medals; about 1900; because they offered so splendid a target for Boer bullets.
Bag and wallet, turn to: to become a beggar; late 16th-17th c.
Baggage: (1)a saucy young woman; Davenant, 1672; coll. by 1700. (2) a worthless man; 16th-17th c.; (3) a harlot or loose woman; Shakespeare, 1596; coll. by 1660, obsolete by 1800. (4) rubbish, nonsense; 16th c., e.g. in Gascoigne.
Baggage, heavy: women and children; late 18th c. >; from French pas de bagage en train de plaisir.

40 comments:

Savannah Jordan said...

Oh, Hun, that use of the "f" word is fine. I refuse to use it, and many other vulgar terms, in my erotic writing because I do not find it/them to have any sensual quality.

This is not to say that I would not use it in dialogue. In truth, the "f" word shows up in the sequel to my paranormal romance novel. It is very viable as an expletive.

To me, it's all in how you use it. :)

Erik Ivan James said...

Another first from Bernita. I don't recall ever seeing the "f" word described as having been said 'eloquently'.

And from yesterday: Yes, Damie is strong and attractive and I wasn't just being my normal Dear Guy self, Dear Gal.

Tsavo Leone said...

When used correctly certain profanities/expletives carry considerable weight. That you can recall how many times you have used said profanity in toto shows a far greater level of self control than I can admit to possessing.

I agree wholeheartedly with Savannah's statement about useage of the "f-word" in erotica (which goes back to my comments once upon a long ago about the difference between erotica and pornography): it detracts awfully from the sensuality of a piece. Dialogue, however, will always be a different matter.

And I disagree with Erik: I have (and this no word of a lie) had my own use of the "f-word" described as eloquent - it was during a five hour car journey, I was driving, and I was on my best behaviour due to the passengers I was carrying... : )

Ric said...

I think the use of the adverb makes it stand out even more. Nicely done.

Personally, I think the word can ONLY be used as dialog. Any other way just sounds vulgar. Right, Savannah?

Bernita said...

I'm certainly with you ,Savannah. Nothing at all sensual about street expletives.

Not self-control, Tsavo, I just use other words, due to my pearl-choker upbringing. Some quite colorful, really - but not that one or any of the other words related thereto, which I do consider simply vulgar and cheap - and most important - unimaginative in the extreme.
I just don't happen to think of those various elements in those words.

You can see, Erik, I've been rebellious in posting this in more ways than one.
Thank you. A test of a character, I think, if she appeals to the other gender as well.

This will probably be the only time I will use it, Ric, unless, I suppose, I'm re-creating the dialogue of some specific character. There, it can be very funny - in contrast if nothing else.

jason evans said...

I liked it! I felt the impending threat. And if ever there was a moment deserving of the the f-bomb, that would be it.

But, sangfroid? Is that when the Oedipus Complex is set to a melody? (Just messing with you, mom. =D)

Sandra Ruttan said...

The art is using the 'f' word so often people are mesmerized when you don't.

Or so I keep telling myself.

(PS: I got the bookstore post up, finally! I wanted to do the cover thing, but it was so huge and I need graphics, so I'll be back with that next week.)

Robyn said...

As dialogue, and sparingly used at that, profanity can be very effective. I only object to certain words being used as the character's only reaction to everything that comes up, good or bad.

If you saw "Die Hard" for example: Bruce Willis' character says nothing but the f-word for 10 solid minutes. My mom wondered how long it took him to learn his lines.

I tend to get bored with continual profanity. It is as if the author is trying too hard to be hip and edgy, like a teenager wanting to sound cool.

Bernita said...

Thank you, my son.
You think I should have used another word, Jason - such as "composure?"
I can't for the life of me, connect Oedipus... oh wait...Don't mess with me, boy, even if you're bigger than me...
To use that particular expletive would be "inappropriate", and create a distasteful tone considering what has gone on before, etc.

Bernita said...

I think the same, Robyn.
I never heard the word used myself until I came to the big city and over heard a very pretty girl next door tell off her male acquaintance, something along the lines of "I don't f-ing well give a sweet f about your f-ing problems or your f-ing psychiatrist or your f-ing room mate, and you can f-ing well f off and not f-ing come f-ing crying to me...."
Took my five minutes to crank my mouth closed.

Will come again and look, Sandra. That's an interesting take on usage.

Ric said...

Bernita,
That line is hysterical.

"Took me five minutes to crank my mouth closed."

What a great line! I'll bet you're a laugh a minute!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

gafbfdradd....oh, excuse me, Bernita...I still had my hand over my eyes...I can't use that word in christian fiction, but I have had occassion to hear people use it nineteen times in one sentence. It never ceases to amaze me at the limits of their vocabulary...LOL

Bernita said...

Not really, Ric, only when I'm on a roll or feeling giddy.
Sometime I'll tell you the anecdote about a doctor when my husband was in intensive care.

You can look now, Bonnie.
That's when I turn on what my kids call "eyes of death" - but only if they're speaking to me. Otherwise, I just acquire a bored expression.
Maybe that's why there's a proscription by some editors about adjectives ...

Carla said...

19 times in one sentence must be some kind of a record. Although for ratio this takes some beating: "The f-ing f-er's f-ing f-ed."
And conveys no information whatsoever except that the speaker is (presumably) miffed. A masterly (mis)use of language. No idea where I first saw/heard it.

Rick said...

Eloquently is fine with me!

But I gotta ask an annoying question: Doesn't either one of them have a cell phone? Especially a cop!

(I didn't come up with that question out of my own brilliance - just a few days ago I read a blog post about how cell phones have made mystery/suspense plotting more difficult.)

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Oh, carla....you should hear my husband when he hits a finger with a hammer....LOL...19 times is child's play!

Bernita said...

Conyeys the idea as well that something is broken, defunct, totally, Carla. With some economy.

Considered that. He's on leave, Rick, away from his manor. Presumeably, it's in his car, if he brought it. I can always mention it earlier if you think the absence is pertinent.
She doesn't have one, either here or at home, though it was recommended that she do so.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Oh...Bernita...I forgot...one word I think you should change...no not that one1

When John is talking and he said, "...hand and kneesies..."

LOL...kneesies doesn't sound like a word I hear men say very often, unless they're....of, never mind!

Dennie McDonald said...

I have been told I have the mouth of a sailor... But as the boys repeat EVERYTHING I say I have had to be careful... in my writing, I tend to use it if the charcater would, but often I don't as again I catch the boys reading over my shoulder every now and again - can a woman get no privocy?

apparently not in a house full of dudes!!!!

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, since I have no f-ing cell I never the f- thought about that f-ing problem.

My characters don't use the f- word because it has a too modern feel, imho. If one of my characters wants to taunt someone, it goes like, "miserable villein, begotten in the darkest corner of town, you take it up the ass."

Or, in good Latin: mentulam caco.

Sorry, Bonnie. :)

ivan said...

Love those hang-ups. Precious!

Taking up new challenges indeed.
This foray into the world of T-man hatted figures, assassinations and evil intent is right up my alley. In my own novel in a similar vein, I intended to write a classic thriller, well plotted, having every word count, a snapper of an ending, a sure-fire bestseller.

It didn't work out that way. I didn't know enough about the thriller genre, knew nothing at all about Man,Myth and Magic, the editor I'd sent it to, with his remark, "You haven't even scrateched the surface yet."
After two years' investment, my wife said "You picked a hard thing to be."
What to do? I had wasted 70,000 words.
Why, turn it around, narrate from the first person and kind of turn it into a personal narrative of paranoia, intrigue, a source of evil and the poor artist hunted and pursued.
Took it to a friend. His appraisal?
"There's one more asshole in Toronto who thinks he's Franz Kafka."
Back to the drawing board. The story of a culturally displaced person trying to hold it all together in Toronto. The closer I came to autobiography, the better it worked. I came out with The Hat People, and after a series of rejections, it was finally taken and paid for by the Uxbridge Public Library here in Ontario. I was actually quite embarrassed about the work as so many typos had gotten through.
Yet I think I learned something. Outobiographical is easier.

As for the F-word in fiction? It kind of fits in naturally and in the right place in a narrative where some heartfelt spice is needed, does it not.

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a
F*ck?"

Erik Ivan James said...

hmmmm, bernita, I wonder how much value feedback could be obtained if I tacked these comments to the wall at deer hunting camp? I'd highlight Sandra's "The art of using the 'f' word.....". :)

Bernita said...

It's meant to contrast with the seriousness of the situation,Bonnie, something like "Now, squad, let's all on get on our little feet and RUN LIKE HELL"

Hmm, my Dickshunarry of Slang which I have been extracting select excerpts from recently, suggests that this word of the Sixth Letter is " almost certainly cognate with the Latin verb "pungere and the noun "pugil" both derived from a radical meaning 'to strike'; semantically therefore, it links with "prick."
The word is honoured with almost a full page of examples and usages.
Quite comprehensive.
The editor notes that as an adjective,1840, possibly much earlier - records being extremely scarce.
The verb was certainly in use as early as the 16th century.

Savannah Jordan said...

Ric~
"Personally, I think the word can ONLY be used as dialog. Any other way just sounds vulgar. Right, Savannah?"

I am in total agreement!


Tsavo~
Glad you agree!


Dennie~
In real life, I am with you Sister! And, sensoring yourself about the little ones can be a dolesome task...

Bernita said...

Thank you, Ivan.
Somehow, I don't think my single venture into f-territory compares.

I imagine it would only garner a WTF?, Erik.

I kept my mouth clean for years, Dennie, after hearing my three-year old going up the stairs saying "shit, shit, shit" at every step.

Bernita said...

How's that, Rick?

Rick said...

Bernita - I think you do need to mention the (lack of) effin' cell phones. Be easy to do when they have the bit of conversation about being quarry.

Carla said...

Gabriele, that's reminiscent of the splendid insults used by writers representing Urdu, like Kipling and Paul Scott. My favourite is "Fart in the holy silence of the universe!" which I think is somewhere in Scott's Raj Quartet.

Bernita said...

Gabriele, Carla, I seriously love to see creative insults like those.
I find them exceptionally authentic, especially when used by a military type, mercenary, regular or whatever.

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, I note some juicy things down when they come into my mind. I'll need a few for my Pirates on the Baltic Sea plotbunny.

Misbegotten son of a klabauterman.
Cockless bilge rat.
Foul piece of beggar born manure.

Yep, in times where rank and birth played an important role, you can come up with some not so nice comparisons.

Carla said...

You have to really know the culture inside out and have recreated it for the reader to make that sort of insult work well. Like making humour work well; it has to make sense both within the context and to a modern reader. Which I guess is why it's so rewarding to find them.

ivan said...

Carla,
Omigod. I don't mean to disparage any creed or country, but was it only
my own scatologicl giggle when I read about the great BAUUM in the Malabar Caves in E.M. Forster's A Passage to India?

Carla said...

Bernard Cornwell has some inventive insults in his Alfred series. What I want to know is, why does he give the weasel such a bad press? They're beautiful animals; and there's one near here that's bright enough to look both ways before crossing the road.

Gabriele C. said...

It's the time, maybe. Weasels have a renown as being sneaky and bloodthirsty.

ivan said...

Gabrielle,
I kinda like "cockless bilge rat."
A gay frie4nd of mine once called me that.
that's what happens when your hang around the docks.

Trista Bane said...

I agree with Savannah. It is all how you use the word. And I love the fact that he said it "eloquently" *grin*.

Trista Bane said...

LoL. Sorry, I just thought of something else! In my Creative Writing class, years ago, we had a very "intelligent conversation" about how the "f" word can, according to one of my fellow students, be used as nearly any part of speech, except maybe preposition and conjunction. I thought it was pretty funny, but I guess you had to be there.

Shesawriter said...

I agree with Trista. It is all the way it's done and used. :-) Oh, and WHO is using it.

Tanya

ivan said...

Well, I used to pass myself off as a Scotsman by using the archaic
"Hoot Mon!"
My Lancastrian pals, who know Scotsmen say this expression has now changed to
"Fok Me!
I stand corrected.

Yeah, Shesawriter, I know.

Bernita said...

Trista!
Delighted to see another paranormal writer.
I think we can imagine. Much rolling on the floor.