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Old 01-13-2006, 03:03 PM
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Short Story In Progress


I'm going to do something here I've never done in my entire writing career -- share a work in progress with strangers. In fact, I've only shared WIPs with close friends once or twice. I have a superstition about doing this. I worry that it will screw the pooch to get feedback on a story before I know exactly where it is heading. When I write fiction, the story can take many turns before I finish a version I like. I'm making an exception in this case to see if my fears are well-founded or nonsense.

A note of background before you read the first 700 words: I never rented a houseboat on the Sacramento River, but I always wanted to when I was stationed nearby at Travis Air Force Base. My work schedule and my girlfriend's work schedule didn't jive to allow it, but I always thought it would be a very romantic way to spend a few days together. So I'm trying to do in fiction what I never got to do in real life, with a little extra plot thrown in for dramatic effect. Isn't the life of a writer sad?


A Houseboat On The River


Sarah was asleep on one of the bunks in the rented houseboat while Jesse steered, squinting in the afternoon sun before he slipped on a pair of wire-rimmed Air Force sunglasses. From time to time he glanced at Sarah, a young woman with short brown hair and a pretty face. He loved to watch her sleep. She looked so peaceful, like a little girl dreaming of teddy bears and candy.

They were exactly where they wanted to be -- lost in the California Delta, 1,000 miles of inland waterways branching off of the Sacramento River between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and San Francisco Bay. Not really lost, he thought, just floating through another world of backwater sloughs and rice farms and quaint little towns. Out of sight and sound of the freeways and shopping malls and urban sprawl of modern California. Everything seemed much simpler put-puting along the water at 5 miles per hour.

Their lost stop had been Isleton, a town that looked like a film set of the 1920s. It reminded Jesse of the Lost Generation. We are the new Lost Generation, he mused, staring at Sarah. They had walked around Isleton while the houseboat was being refueled. They found the odd combination of bait shop, bar and restaurant in an old clapboard structure built on stilts at the water's edge. Lunch was crawfish boiled in beer with tossed salad and sour-dough bread -- a river feast served by a middle-aged woman with arthritic fingers who asked if they were married.

Back on the houseboat Jesse had drowned some live bait trolling for stripers or striped bass while Sarah curled up on the bunk, sleepy from the big lunch with glasses of Chablis wine. Jesse smiled to realize she was a novice drinker still a few months away from the legal drinking age. Maybe too young for me, he thought, but he couldn't help the way he felt about her. She had miraculously saved him after he gave up hope of ever loving another woman.

Reeling in the fishing line, Jesse had fallen into a hypnotic state of mind navigating the twists and turns of the river. He could barely hear the motor and the scenery passed by like a landscape painting in motion. A curious sense of unreality gradually took hold of him, but it was a pleasant feeling akin to an enchanting dream.

Sarah snapped him out of it when she suddenly sat up on the bunk and yawned. "What time is it?"

"Almost three-thirty."

"Why did you let me sleep so long?"

"You seemed tired."

She looked at the trees along the river bank. "Where are we?"

"In the middle of nowhere."

She broke into a grin half-way through another yawn. "You're not as funny as you think you are."

"Nag, nag, nag."

She crossed the deck and sat in his lap, kissing him on the bridge of his nose.

"I can't see," he whined mockingly. "You want me to run this vessel aground?"

"Now who's nagging?"

He kissed her on the mouth. "You win. Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!"

"Let's not get crazy here. Remember, I can't swim."

"But I am crazy. For you."

"I still can't swim, darling."

"What kind of first mate are you?"

Sarah looked away.

"Sorry," he said. "Stupid remark."

"Forget it." She stood up and walked to the galley. "I'm hungry. You want a sandwich?"

"Jesus, how can you eat so much and weigh 105 pounds?"

She smiled. "I don't know -- just lucky, I guess. I repeat, do you want a sandwich?"

"I haven't finished digesting lunch yet."

"You're not going to watch me eat, are you?"

"Not if you don't want me to."

She removed two slices of bread from a packaged loaf. "Did you catch any fish while I was asleep?"

"No comment."

"Some fisherman you are."

"I could drag the river for a dead one if you're really that hungry."

"Not funny. And look! I have a knife in my hand."

"I'm shutting up now."


(To be continued, hopefully.)

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Old 01-13-2006, 03:42 PM
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Because I don't want to disturb any kind of balance, I am going to report that I think your use of dialogue is fantastic and your sense of description is spot-on. I have nothing to say about your actual plot or anything theoretical that might rock your boat.
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Old 01-13-2006, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by solecistic
Because I don't want to disturb any kind of balance, I am going to report that I think your use of dialogue is fantastic and your sense of description is spot-on. I have nothing to say about your actual plot or anything theoretical that might rock your boat.
Rock my houseboat, you should have said.

Balance undisturbed. Gliding down the river on an even keel. Trouble ahead for Jesse and Sarah.
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Old 01-18-2006, 06:24 AM
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I have to agree with Chrissy, your description is excellent. Just enough without going overboard. I wonder where this will go.....
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Old 01-18-2006, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Dalton
I have to agree with Chrissy, your description is excellent. Just enough without going overboard. I wonder where this will go.....
Me, too. If you figure it out, please let me know.

(The Muse never tells me anything in advance.)
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Old 01-18-2006, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by starrwriter
(The Muse never tells me anything in advance.)
That damn muse never tells me anything..... advance or not.
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Old 01-18-2006, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Dalton ...
your description is excellent. Just enough without going overboard.
I just got it. Overboard. Houseboat.

Never mind.
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Old 01-18-2006, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by starrwriter
I just got it. Overboard. Houseboat.

Never mind.
I don't know if I can take the punishment. ><
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Old 01-18-2006, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by starrwriter
I just got it. Overboard. Houseboat.

Never mind.
I was going to let it go.....
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