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The Real Bar

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Old 04-23-2017, 10:33 AM
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The Real Bar


When Raymond was a boy, his father would go to the neighborhood bar once or twice a week and have drinks with men named Red, Mitch or Whitey. He’d have a shot or a couple of drafts at most and go home to a good hot meal.

“Had a drink with the boys, Martha,” he’d say. “Do I smell pot roast?”

Then he’d rub Raymond’s head and say, “Hello, old timer.” Raymond would hug him and take in the aroma of cigars, whisky and beer.

Raymond always thought it would be nice to go to a bar after a hard day at the office, just like his old man had. Except there weren’t any real bars in the city or anywhere near it. Only sports bars and theme bars and bars in restaurants or hotels.

And there would be no pot roast or hugs for him either. His wife had sent him packing and for no good reason other than she didn’t love him. It wasn’t his fault. So why did he get the raw deal?

On his way home from work one day, Raymond stopped at Slugger’s for a drink. Slugger’s was a sports bar. He hated sports bars, with their big screen televisions, phony memorabilia and waitresses dressed like referees.

“Bud draft,” he said to the bartender. She was wearing a whistle and a tank top that said: Slugger’s—Food, Sports, Fun and More!

More what? That’s what Raymond wanted to know.

He saw a man with a loose tie and an open collar at the end of the bar. Raymond nodded, and the man introduced himself as Arnold. Why didn’t men have nicknames any more? His hair was red. He could have called himself Red if he'd wanted to.

“I like the Braves chances,” Arnold said, pointing at the TV.

“Yep.” Raymond said. “I do too.”

Raymond was nearly six-three and thought for a moment that he might introduce himself as Stretch. Then he thought better of it. After his first beer he was more talkative.

“Did you ever think Chipper would play after that last knee injury? I never did. Not in a million years.”

“Nope. Me either,” Arnold said. “I do like the Braves chances this year.”

After an inning or so, Raymond’s second beer took effect.

“You know,” he said, "there are no real bars around here. Not honest to God bars. Just places like this or worse.”

“You know, you're right,” Arnold said. “They have’em up North. Midwest too. All kinds of ’em. But not down here. Everywhere’s got 'em but Atlanta—seems like that anyhow.”

“You’d think there would be one in the whole damned city,” Raymond said. “Everything’s fake and new. You’d think Sherman marched through ten years ago.”

Raymond ordered a shot of bourbon. Before he knocked it back, he thought it would be good to say something like, “Here’s mud in your eye!” or “Down the hatch!” But he didn’t.

“Actually, I can think of one place,” Arnold said. “Bosco’s—if it's still there. Now there’s a bar. I had a customer once—a printing plant off North Avenue. It was down past the old water works. They’d go there after shifts. Pickled eggs, pool table, peanut shells on the floor— the whole nine yards.”

“I’ll remember that. A bit out of my way, though,” Raymond said. “Tab please, bartender—and put one of whatever he’s drinking on there.”

Now that’s something you’d say in a real bar.

The following afternoon, Raymond sat in his cubicle and played hearts on the computer. It was a beautiful spring day and he dreaded going home to the crushing solitude of his dark little apartment. He hated everything about the place—the futon, the end tables from Walmart, the empty refrigerator and the tiny TV. He guessed his ex-wife was watching General Hospital at that very moment on his fifty-two inch flat screen.

“Bosco’s,” Raymond said.

He heard a voice from the adjoining cubicle. “What’d you say, Raymond?”

“Nothing, Judy. I’m going to head out. I worked late last night.”

He’d done no such thing.

He liked Judy and wished she was single. None of the women at the office were single—at least none that he’d look at twice. But perhaps he was too picky. After all, who was he?

Instead of heading north to the suburbs, Raymond drove downtown. There was no traffic on the connector and it was smooth sailing down North Avenue all the way to the old waterworks.

He spotted the printing plant, but it was plain the plant had closed long ago. There were weeds growing through large cracks in the pavement and the walls were covered with graffiti. And there didn’t seem to be much of anything else around that looked open or functioning. Then Raymond saw a woman at a bus stop talking to a man in blue coveralls.

“Excuse me,” Raymond said. “Would you happen to know where Bosco’s is?”

“Bosco’s?” the woman said. “Yeah, I know. My sorry-ass husband drank himself to death at Bosco’s.” He expected her to punctuate the reply by spitting.

“Go on over to the other side of the old plant there. You’ll find it,” the man said.

“Thanks, buddy.” Raymond said.

Drank himself to death? That sounded promising.

Raymond drove around to the opposite side of the plant. Then he saw it—a red neon sign that said, BAR, just as he’d imagined it. The sign was in the blacked-out window of a small red brick building just a few feet from the curb. He parked his car in a gravel lot next to the building and took off his tie.

As he walked through the door, patrons turned their heads and squinted or shrank away like vampires in the afternoon sun. Bosco’s was just as Arnold had described it. Raymond felt the peanut shells crunch beneath his feet. He sat on a stool and glanced expectantly around the room. Not a photon of sunlight remained.

“What’ll ya have?” the bartender said.

What’ll ya have! Raymond was beside himself.

“A Bud draft, please.”

“The name’s Gus,” the bartender said.

Gus! It just kept getting better.

“My friends call me Stretch,” Raymond mumbled.

“Whassat?” Gus said.

“Uh, the name’s Raymond.”

Raymond nodded politely at the others seated at the bar. The man in the blue coveralls came in and sat next to him.

“I see you found it OK.” He had an oval patch on his pocket that said Tommy.

“Yes, thank you,” Raymond said. “I’ll buy you one for your trouble.”

“No trouble, but thanks.”

“Tommy, how’s your wife doing?” Gus said.

“Better.”

Raymond took care not to rock the boat or draw attention. He sat quietly and drank his beer. He’d say something to someone soon, he figured. But someone else spoke first.

“So there—ah—what’d you say your name was?” Tommy said.

“I didn’t.” He’d heard someone say that in a movie. “But the name’s Raymond.”

“Nice car you got. If you need new tires, I can fix you up.”

“The car’s the only thing the ex didn’t get her mitts on.”

That was a good thing to say, he thought. Especially the “mitts” part. The comment was met with general approval: “I heard that” and “You can say that again.”

A drunk at the end of the bar waved his hand in a gesture of dismissal and slurred, “Aaah, what’s it to you?”

Raymond expected that there might be a few bar flies at Bosco's, but he wasn’t there to judge them. And it wouldn’t have been a real bar if there wasn’t a drunk or two hunched over it.

He finished his second beer. That was enough for his first time. He paid his tab and left Gus a good tip—but not too much. He didn’t want to look like a show-off.

The next night was Cub Scout night; the one weeknight he was allowed to see his son. So Raymond didn’t go to Bosco’s. But he went there the following night. When he walked into the bar, Gus remembered him.

“Bud Draft?” Gus said.

“Just what the Doctor ordered.”

One day, he’d tell Gus to “Keep’em coming.” He’d always wanted say that. But today was not the day.

He caught a woman’s eye and she sat down a seat away from his. He certainly hadn’t expected to meet women at Bosco’s. It was hard to tell what she looked like at first. It was dark and everyone and everything at Bosco’s looked red. The neon beer signs were mostly red and so were the booths and the cushions on the bar stools. But from what he could see, she looked OK.

“Gin and tonic?” Gus asked the woman.

“Yes, thank you, Gus.”

Then it seemed like Gus was playing matchmaker. “Sally’s a teacher over at Central High,” he said.

“Oh that’s nice,” Raymond said. Sally gave him a tight lipped smile that said, not in the mood for small talk. But she's the one who sat near him—so what was her deal?

Raymond had two beers that night, plus a shot of bourbon.

“You’re supposed to drink the bourbon first and then the beer,” Tommy said.

“Aaah, what’s it to you?” the bar fly said.

“That’s just Old Bill. Never mind him,” Tommy said.

Raymond issued the old drunk a two-fingered salute off his temple.

At first, Raymond had reservations about becoming a regular at a bar. But Bosco’s was different. Sure, there were a few hopeless drunks. But he could see nurses from the County Hospital, mechanics from Tommy’s and some folks from the offices in Midtown. And he’d spotted a couple of black-clad, pseudo-bohemians he guessed were from the lofts on Marietta Street. They probably came just to soak up the atmosphere. But they were all regular folks—not too different than him.

Two nights a week at Bosco’s was enough, he reckoned—Tuesdays and Thursdays. He couldn’t miss poker night. It was the only time he could see his married friends. As a rule, couples just don’t socialize with divorced men. And of course there was Cub Scout night. At one meeting, they made Native American necklaces out of spray painted macaroni. You just can't miss something like that.

Through most of the summer, Raymond stuck to his schedule—Tuesdays and Thursdays. And Saturdays—but only if the Braves were playing. That turned out to be every Saturday. And most Sundays. Then one Friday night, sitting alone in his apartment, Raymond felt so lonely it made him nauseous, so he made an exception. Just this once.

Sally the teacher was at Bosco's when he arrived. Before he could take a seat at the end of the bar, she waved him over.

“I guess I wasn’t very polite the night we met. Had a bad day. The principal had the nerve to tell me my performance is slipping. How’s about I buy you a shooter, Ronald?

“What’s a shooter?”

“A drink, honey. It’ll get you where you want to go. And fast.”

Raymond guessed that Sally was already there.

They talked about their divorces and Raymond told her what a raw deal he’d gotten. The beer flowed and Gus kept laying down the gin and tonics. They took a cab to her place. When Raymond woke up, he wanted to leave without saying anything. But it’s impossible to get out of a woman’s bed, get dressed and walk out without waking her. That only works in the movies. When Sally finally came to, they had coffee, and Raymond had a piece of burnt toast with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! on it. He didn’t think it tasted anything like butter.

One night in early September, Raymond sat at the bar drinking a vodka martini. He thought he would try one to mix it up a bit. You know—James Bond or Frank Sinatra and Ring-A-Ding-Ding. Then his cell phone rang.

“Jesus Christ, I missed Cub Scouts.” Raymond said.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” Tommy said.

“I’ll have another one of those vodka martinis, Gus. Only this time, go easy on the vermouth. On second thought, forget the vermouth. And the olive.”

But Tommy was right. He’d see his son next week.

Raymond’s brother invited him for Thanksgiving that year. He was excited about leaving town and seeing family. But he put off buying his ticket and the only flight he could get was a redeye Thanksgiving morning. It cost him a fortune, but he couldn't stand the idea of spending the day all alone.

He was crushed when he discovered there was a freak snowstorm in Charlotte and the airport was closed. The next flight wouldn’t be for another six hours and he’d miss Thanksgiving dinner altogether. His brother was flying out to ski in Utah the next day, so there was no point in going. Besides, his brother's kids were first class brats. He wouldn't miss seeing them all that much.

Later that day, Raymond was feeling lonely, so he drove to Bosco’s on the off chance it was open Thanksgiving.

The neon sign was on. Gus had set up a couple of card tables and laid out a sorry looking spread of pressed turkey roll and cut-rate versions of the usual Thanksgiving fair—stuffing, green beans, gelatin desserts and those little square rolls that come all stuck together in an aluminum foil tray. There were a few people milling about the tables with paper plates and drinks in hand. No one was going for the gelatin desserts.

Despite his lack of enthusiasm, Raymond said, “What the fuck.” He filled his plate and decided to get good and drunk. And after a couple of vodka rocks, he felt better. He really perked up when Sally came in. He hadn’t seen her since the night she gave him a blowjob in the parking lot.

“Happy Turkey Day,” Raymond said.

“Glad to see you, honey. I sure could use a little stuffing,”

Raymond didn’t get it. At least not right away.

At noon the following day, he woke up face-down and naked on the floor. Sally was passed out in his plaid La-Z-Boy with nothing on but a pair of high heels and a Yankees batting helmet. Where the hell did the helmet come from? Raymond hated the fucking Yankees.

“How about a little hair of the dog, baby?” Sally asked

She wobbled over to the fridge in her high-heels and took out a couple of beers.

“But we just woke up,” Raymond said.

“It’ll make you feel good as new.”

Raymond had a strict rule. No drinking before noon. But Sally held the beer to his lips and he sucked it down like like it was cool spring water. The better part of a twelve-pack later, Sally said she’d like to drive to Chamblee and go antiquing. Women.

Later that day, heads turned on Peachtree Street as they drove downtown to Bosco’s with a brass chandelier and a moose head strapped to the back of Sally’s Miata.

St. Patrick’s Day fell on a weekend that year and Raymond drank his share of green beer. Monday morning, he sat in his cubicle, head in hands, with blurred images of the weekend flashing and flickering in his brain like the last frames of an old movie. He’d been at Bosco’s Saturday afternoon and all evening. And Gus had let him crash on a cot in the back. But Sunday was black, except for a blurred image of Sally sitting on the edge of her bed crying. He had no idea why, and hoped he hadn’t done anything to hurt her feelings. He really liked Sally. After all, they had a lot in common.

“Raymond, do you feel all right?” Judy asked him, peering over the cubicle wall. “You look like you’re coming down with something.”

“Oh, I’m all right,” he said.

But he wasn’t all right. He had the worst hangover of his life and he knew the only way to cure it was a little hair-of-the-dog. At lunch time, he drove to Bosco’s and had a shot and a beer.

“I see ya had your shot before your beer this time,” Old Bill said. Old Bill sounded somewhat lucid, given it was only noon. “Say, I don’t believe I know your name. I’m Bill. Bill Zakowski. Around here, they just call me Old Bill.

“I’m Raymond.”

He’d told the old fool his name a hundred times. And he tried to remember if he’d ever been to Bosco’s and not seen Old Bill, perched on the same stool, squawking periodically like a drunken parrot.

Raymond stood up and told Gus he had to take a leak. He walked into the men’s room and wiped his forehead with a brown paper towel that felt like sandpaper. Then he put his hand on the condom machine—Ribbed for her pleasure—and leaned forward over the urinal. Overwhelmed by the smell of pine cleaner and old urine, he ran to the stall and puked up his drinks. A waste of perfectly good alcohol.

“Jesus Christ,” Raymond said. He stumbled over to the sink and threw cold water on his face. Then Raymond took his place at the bar and said, “Keep ‘em coming, Gus.”

“Hey Raymond, you don’t look too hot.”

“I said keep ‘em coming, Gus.”

Old Bill got up and dealt his one dollar bills onto the bar. “I went to the doc yesterday and he said if I kept drinking it’d kill me. But they’ve been saying that for ten years.”

Raymond looked over his shoulder and watched the old man walk out into the bright sunshine, laughing and wheezing all the way. Then he realized he was the only person there—except for Gus and he didn’t really count.

When Raymond heard the brakes squeal and a sickening thud, he knew what had happened. He ran out the door with Gus behind him and saw Old Bill lying in the street. Blood was running from his nose and his limbs were askew. His old fedora was at least twenty feet down the street, lying in a puddle. Raymond knelt and put two fingers on the side of Old Bill’s neck. He’d seen that plenty of times on TV.

“I think he’s dead.” Raymond said. A young woman was running back and forth between her car and Old Bill's lifeless body screaming over and over, “I didn’t see him!”

When the police arrived, they took a statement from Raymond. The paramedics drove off with no siren. The doctor said if Old Bill kept drinking it would kill him. If that doctor knew what had happened, Old Bill would sure have had the last laugh.

Raymond went home, called in sick for the afternoon and took a long nap. When he woke up, he stumbled to the sofa, high-stepping over stacks of newspapers and dirty laundry. He looked at a picture on the end table, a photo of his son in his little league uniform. When had he seen him last? It couldn’t have been more than three weeks. Four weeks—tops. He’d cut his wife out of the photo, but could still see her shadow in the foreground, falling across his carefully nurtured lawn. The bitch.

Why had she stopped loving him anyway? So he made a few mistakes. He was only human. She’d made them too. And plenty. Sure, he shouldn’t have worked through his son’s fifth birthday party. And he should have folded his hand before losing the twenty-five hundred bucks they’d saved for their second honeymoon. And he probably shouldn’t have...

He grabbed the remote and turned on the Wheel of Fortune before the litany of his mistakes could unfurl like a runaway roll of toilet paper. After watching for a moment, he hit the remote. That dumb cunt should have just bought another vowel.

He poked at his phone and noticed he had messages.

“Raymond, it’s Sally. After this weekend—I’ve been thinking. I just can’t take it anymore. I could come by and we could go to a meeting together. We could quit together Raymond. Why don’t I...”

Skip.

“Dear, it’s your mother. Your father says he can’t get in touch with you. And I’ve been trying...”

Stop.

Raymond felt the pain in the back of his throat that sometimes comes before tears, but fought them back. Why was he so shaken up? He didn’t give two shits about Old Bill.

A drink or two would help him put things in perspective. He went to the freezer and took out a plastic liter bottle of vodka. But there were only fumes in it. Why put the goddamn empty bottle back in the freezer?

“Just go on down to Bosco’s, Raymond.”

Raymond gasped and said, “What the fuck?”

“I said, just go on down to Bosco’s.”

He turned to see Old Bill leaning over the kitchen counter, cradling a drink. Raymond threw the empty vodka bottle at Old Bill, but it went right through him and bounced off the wall. Old Bill laughed and disappeared like the head on a warm beer.

Raymond was just tired. And traumatized. He’d been through a lot that day. Saw a dead man lying mangled on the street. That’s why he was seeing things. He just needed something to eat. And that drink. Then things would be fine.

The refrigerator was empty as usual, except for a jar of pickle relish and some Tupperware he’d been afraid to open. And a trip to the liquor store was in order. So he showered, shaved and scrawled a shopping list on the back of an envelope. Maybe he’d catch a movie—buy a pint and smuggle it into the theater. While locking his deadbolt, a pretty young woman appeared in the hallway.

“Hello there,” she said. “I’m Katie. I just said to my roommate, we haven’t even met the man next door. We’re having friends over—come in for a drink.”

Jesus Christ. Too perky. The sorority girl type. Raymond hesitated. Considering the events of the day, he wasn’t in much of a mood for small talk, but he certainly didn’t want to be alone either. At the least, he’d get that drink or two he needed—and right away.

“Uh, sure,” he said. “I guess I could—yes that would be nice.”

The woman took his arm and led him through the door. “This is my neighbor. I’m sorry—your name...”

“Raymond,” he said. She led him through the room while people nodded and smiled at him. There were people of all ages: children, teenagers, people his own age and even a couple of blue-hairs, all crammed into an apartment no bigger than his. And they all seemed to be having a fine time.

“What would you like to drink?” Katie asked.

“A beer, please.”

A boy about his son’s age bumped into him and said, “Sorry mister.”

Raymond smiled and said, “That’s okay, son.”

“See my new baseball glove?” the boy said. It’s a Mazuno, Chipper Jones autograph.”

The boy backed up and caught an imaginary pop fly. “He’s out!” Raymond said. The boy smiled, and Raymond could feel that pain in the back of his throat. Chipper Jones was his son’s favorite player.

Katie emerged from the kitchen and gave Raymond his beer. He scanned the room as he drank, and wondered when he had last been around people other than at work or Bosco’s. Watching the boy move through the crowd, receiving pats and hugs, he was suddenly hit by a wave of loneliness and remorse. The boy, the laughter, friendly faces, his neighbor’s hospitality—it all reminded him of what he’d lost. What he’d been missing. He realized he needed to do something. Take some action. Maybe he should call Sally and check out one of those meetings.

But not tonight. After all, he'd started drinking and how would that look? Plus, he was still was feeling sick, and it was now clear he needed more booze than he could drink at a party with a bunch of strangers. Vodka was what he really needed, and plenty of it. He glanced at his watch before pushing his way through the room and out the door. The beer took effect and he felt a little better. But on the way to the liquor store he imagined himself alone in his apartment, drinking cheap vodka from a plastic jug and watching the History Channel.

Fuck that. It would be just as easy to hop on the downtown connector and go to Bosco’s. His real friends would be there, and the night was young. As he drove onto the highway, he could see the lights of the Atlanta skyline, beckoning like the Emerald City.

On arriving at Bosco’s, Raymond inhaled the smoky, stale air like it was pure oxygen. He basked in the recognition as familiar patrons nodded or said his name—even though some turned away as he passed.

Every seat at the bar was taken, except for Old Bill’s—perhaps out of reverence for the old lush. But he didn’t think much of that idea. Before sitting, he walked up to the stool and gave it a spin with his index finger. Gus nodded and smiled, then put a vodka rocks on the bar in front of Raymond.

“Here’s to Old Bill,” Raymond said. “And keep ‘em comin.'”


Last edited by Myers; 04-23-2017 at 12:51 PM..
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Old 04-23-2017, 11:50 AM
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Good stuff, Myers. I'm really studying the way you can pace a story. It's teaching me some things. In fact, I'm not convinced this is much of a departure from your usual. The artistry is the same.

A really enjoyable read.

Made some notes. Just little things that stuck out to me.

It wasn’t his fault. So why did he get the raw deal?>>> I love the feeling of a full stop at 'fault.' The question after feels like telling just a little more than I need. You've already shown us his 'raw deal.'

More what? That’s what Raymond wanted to know.>>> ha ha. Yeah, more what?

Drank himself to death? That sounded promising. >>> love this.

He walked to the bar and felt the peanut shells crunch beneath his feet.>>> maybe: He felt the peanut shells crunch beneath his feet. If he's walking the peanut shells are crunching. No need to say so. Okay... I'm being very picky. But so far, the story is worth it.

But she's the one who sat near him—so what was her deal? >>> I'd end this at the em dash.

It cost him a fortune, but he stand the idea of spending the day all alone.>>> missing a word here.

No one was going for the gelatin deserts.>>> desserts

Old Bill just laughed and disappeared like the head on a warm beer.>>> I would remove 'just.' Smoother, and avoids redundancy in the next para.
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Old 04-23-2017, 01:00 PM
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Thank you for sharing that Myers - smooth and effortless story telling.

I knew where we were going - but I liked the scenery and didn't want to hurry the ride.

The ending was beautifully done - you showed and didn't tell.

Feel like I've had a good meal. x
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Old 04-23-2017, 03:01 PM
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Hey, BP. The story feels different to me -- more stylized and less "realistic." I think it also includes more obvious attempts at humor and irony.

I'm glad you like the pacing -- I struggled with it here, especially the time shifts and transitions -- they still feel a little forced to me. At one point I had those three little asterisks that signal a transition, but ended up getting rid of them.

I made your edits -- except the two where you suggested I cut the sentences at the em dash. I think you're right -- so I probably will make them once I've thought about it a bit more.

As usual -- really solid suggestions and edits. Thanks, man.

Grace, that is high praise, indeed.

Yeah -- it's easy to see where it's going -- just tried to make the journey interesting.

Glad you liked it. Thanks!
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Old 04-23-2017, 03:18 PM
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If it helps, I didn't notice the transitions. They were seamless to me. You know me, I would have said so if they stuck out.

I struggle with the same ideas in my own writing. Sometimes we are our own worst critics. Hyper-focused on details that could go either way.
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Old 06-01-2017, 03:15 PM
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I'm going to be detailed as I can be as we're all here to improve.

Originally Posted by Myers View Post
The Real Bar


When Raymond was a boy, comma isn't actually needed here his father would go to the neighborhood bar once or twice a week and have drinks with men named Red, Mitch or Whitey this sentence is kind of awkward. You could try something like "with a group of men. There names were...." I just think it would flow a little bit smoother. He’d have a shot or a couple of drafts at most and go home to a good hot meal.
I feel like this transition is a little quick? I would have liked to see some banter between the guys. It just seems pointless to
have the first paragraph without having some substance to it.

“Had a drink with the boys, Martha,” he’d say. “Do I smell pot roast?”

Thenusing this as a paragraph starter is kind of a pet peeve so forgive me if I sound harsh. But I've always felt "then" and "and then" are both lazy ways to start. It also sets you up for telling and not showing he’d rub Raymond’s head and say, “Hello, old timer.” Raymond would hug him and take in the aroma of cigars, whisky and beer.

Raymond always thought it would be nice to go to a bar after a hard day at the office, just like his old man had. Except there weren’t any real bars in the city or anywhere near it. Only sports bars and theme bars and bars in restaurants or hotels. a lot of these paragraphs don't have to be separated from one another

And there would be no pot roast or hugs for him either. His wife had sent him packing and for no good reason other than she didn’t love him. It wasn’t his fault. So why did he get the raw deal?Now the transition between Raymond and his father were unclear. This would have been a lot simpler to grasp if the fathers story wasn't so rushed

On his way home from work one day, Raymond stopped at Slugger’s for a drink. Slugger’s was a sports bar. He hated sports bars, with their big screen televisions, phoney memorabilia and waitresses dressed like referees.

“Bud draft,” he said to the bartender. She was wearing a whistle and a tank top that said: Slugger’s—Food, Sports, Fun and More! More what? That’s what Raymond wanted to know. I'd keep that attached to that point

He saw a man I would have put is as "across the bar Raymond noticed a man. His tie was loose around his neck and his collar was unbuttoned. He had a dishevelled look to him" or something. Adding a few details in can flesh out a story and make it pop. with a loose tie and an open collar at the end of the bar. Raymond nodded, and the man introduced himself as Arnold. Why didn’t men have nicknames any more? His hair was red. He could have called himself Red if he'd wanted to.

“I like the Braves chances,” Arnold said, pointing at the TV.

“Yep.” Raymond said. “I do too.”

Raymond was nearly six-three and thought for a moment that he might introduce himself as Stretch. Then he thought better of it. After his first beer he was more talkative.

“Did you ever think Chipper would play after that last knee injury? I never did. Not in a million years.”

“Nope. Me either,” Arnold said. “I do like the Braves chances this year.”

After an inning or so, Raymond’s second beer took effect.

“You know,” he said, "there are no real bars around here. Not honest to God bars. Just places like this or worse.”

“You know, you're right,” Arnold said. “They have’em up North. Midwest too. All kinds of ’em. But not down here. Everywhere’s got 'em but Atlanta—seems like that anyhow.”

“You’d think there would be one in the whole damned city,” Raymond said. “Everything’s fake and new. You’d think Sherman marched through ten years ago.”
The dialogue seems to flow well
Raymond ordered a shot of bourbon. Before he knocked it back, he thought it would be good to say something like, “Here’s mud in your eye!” or “Down the hatch!” But he didn’t.

“Actually, I can think of one place,” Arnold said. “Bosco’s—if it's still there. Now there’s a bar. I had a customer once—a printing plant off North Avenue. It was down past the old water works. They’d go there after shifts. Pickled eggs, pool table, peanut shells on the floor— the whole nine yards.”

“I’ll remember that. A bit out of my way, though,” Raymond said. “Tab please, bartender—and put one of whatever he’s drinking on there.”

Now that’s something you’d say in a real bar.

The following afternoon, I think you need to look at "how"
Raymond sat. You've got a good baseline so adding in a few details shouldn't be too hard.
Raymond sat in his cubicle and played hearts on the computer. It was a beautiful spring day and he dreaded going home to the crushing solitude of his dark little apartment. He hated everything about the place—the futon, the end tables from Walmart, the empty refrigerator and the tiny TV. He guessed his ex-wife was watching General Hospital at that very moment on his fifty-two inch flat screen.

“Bosco’s,” Raymond said.

He heard a voice from the adjoining cubicle. “What’d you say, Raymond?”

“Nothing, Judy. I’m going to head out. I worked late last night.”

He’d done no such thing.

He liked Judy and wished she was single. None of the women at the office were single—at least none that he’d look at twice. But perhaps he was too picky. After all, who was he? it feels like you're trying to be a first person while being third person at times. Sometimes it works and I think it will if you look at the wording.

Instead of heading north to the suburbs, Raymond drove downtown. There was no traffic on the connector and it was smooth sailing down North Avenue all the way to the old waterworks.

He spotted the printing plant, you over use commas.
Running sentences are not grammatically correct
but it was plain the plant had closed long ago. There were weeds growing through large cracks in the pavement and the walls were covered with graffiti. And there didn’t seem to be much of anything else around that looked open or functioning. Then Raymond saw a woman at a bus stop talking to a man in blue coveralls.

“Excuse me,” Raymond said. “Would you happen to know where Bosco’s is?”

“Bosco’s?” the woman said. “Yeah, I know. My sorry-ass husband drank himself to death at Bosco’s.” He expected her to punctuate the reply by spitting. most people would not react that way to a stranger

“Go on over to the other side of the old plant there. You’ll find it,” the man said.

“Thanks, buddy.” Raymond said.

Drank himself to death? That sounded promising.

Raymond drove around to the opposite side of the plant. Then he saw it—a red neon sign that said, BAR, just as he’d imagined it. The sign was in the blacked-out window of a small red brick building just a few feet from the curb. He parked his car in a gravel lot next to the building and took off his tie.

As he walked through the door, patrons turned their heads and squinted or shrank away like vampires in the afternoon sun. Bosco’s was just as Arnold had described it. Raymond felt the peanut shells crunch beneath his feet. He sat on a stool and glanced expectantly around the room. Not a photon of sunlight remained.

“What’ll ya have?” the bartender said.

What’ll ya have! Raymond was beside himself.

“A Bud draft, please.”

“The name’s Gus,” the bartender said.

Gus! It just kept getting better.

“My friends call me Stretch,” Raymond mumbled.

“Whassat?” Gus said.

“Uh, the name’s Raymond.”

Raymond nodded politely at the others seated at the bar. The man in the blue coveralls came in and sat next to him.

“I see you found it OK.” He had an oval patch on his pocket that said Tommy.

“Yes, thank you,” Raymond said. “I’ll buy you one for your trouble.”

“No trouble, but thanks.”

“Tommy, how’s your wife doing?” Gus said.

“Better.”

Raymond took care not to rock the boat or draw attention. He sat quietly and drank his beer. He’d say something to someone soon, he figured. But someone else spoke first.

“So there—ah—what’d you say your name was?” Tommy said.

“I didn’t.” He’d heard someone say that in a movie. “But the name’s Raymond.”

“Nice car you got. If you need new tires, I can fix you up.”

“The car’s the only thing the ex didn’t get her mitts on.”

That was a good thing to say, he thought. Especially the “mitts” part. The comment was met with general approval: “I heard that” and “You can say that again.”

A drunk at the end of the bar waved his hand in a gesture of dismissal and slurred, “Aaah, what’s it to you?”

Raymond expected that there might be a few bar flies at Bosco's, but he wasn’t there to judge them. And it wouldn’t have been a real bar if there wasn’t a drunk or two hunched over it.

He finished his second beer. That was enough for his first time. He paid his tab and left Gus a good tip—but not too much. He didn’t want to look like a show-off.

The next night was Cub Scout night; the one weeknight he was allowed to see his son. So Raymond didn’t go to Bosco’s. But he went there the following night. When he walked into the bar, Gus remembered him.

“Bud Draft?” Gus said.

“Just what the Doctor ordered.”

One day, he’d tell Gus to “Keep’em coming.” He’d always wanted say that. But today was not the day.

He caught a woman’s eye and she sat down a seat away from his. He certainly hadn’t expected to meet women at Bosco’s. It was hard to tell what she looked like at first. It was dark and everyone and everything at Bosco’s looked red. The neon beer signs were mostly red and so were the booths and the cushions on the bar stools. But from what he could see, she looked OK.

“Gin and tonic?” Gus asked the woman.

“Yes, thank you, Gus.”

Then it seemed like Gus was playing matchmaker. “Sally’s a teacher over at Central High,” he said.

“Oh that’s nice,” Raymond said. Sally gave him a tight lipped smile that said, not in the mood for small talk. But she's the one who sat near him—so what was her deal?

Raymond had two beers that night, plus a shot of bourbon.

“You’re supposed to drink the bourbon first and then the beer,” Tommy said.

“Aaah, what’s it to you?” the bar fly said.

“That’s just Old Bill. Never mind him,” Tommy said.

Raymond issued the old drunk a two-fingered salute off his temple.

At first, Raymond had reservations about becoming a regular at a bar. But Bosco’s was different. Sure, there were a few hopeless drunks. But he could see nurses from the County Hospital, mechanics from Tommy’s and some folks from the offices in Midtown. And he’d spotted a couple of black-clad, pseudo-bohemians he guessed were from the lofts on Marietta Street. They probably came just to soak up the atmosphere. But they were all regular folks—not too different than him.

Two nights a week at Bosco’s was enough, he reckoned—Tuesdays and Thursdays. He couldn’t miss poker night. It was the only time he could see his married friends. As a rule, couples just don’t socialize with divorced men. And of course there was Cub Scout night. At one meeting, they made Native American necklaces out of spray painted macaroni. You just can't miss something like that.

Through most of the summer, Raymond stuck to his schedule—Tuesdays and Thursdays. And Saturdays—but only if the Braves were playing. That turned out to be every Saturday. And most Sundays. Then one Friday night, sitting alone in his apartment, Raymond felt so lonely it made him nauseous, so he made an exception. Just this once.

Sally the teacher was at Bosco's when he arrived. Before he could take a seat at the end of the bar, she waved him over.

“I guess I wasn’t very polite the night we met. Had a bad day. The principal had the nerve to tell me my performance is slipping. How’s about I buy you a shooter, Ronald?

“What’s a shooter?”

“A drink, honey. It’ll get you where you want to go. And fast.”

Raymond guessed that Sally was already there.

They talked about their divorces and Raymond told her what a raw deal he’d gotten. The beer flowed and Gus kept laying down the gin and tonics. They took a cab to her place. When Raymond woke up, he wanted to leave without saying anything. But it’s impossible to get out of a woman’s bed, get dressed and walk out without waking her. That only works in the movies. When Sally finally came to, they had coffee, and Raymond had a piece of burnt toast with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! on it. He didn’t think it tasted anything like butter.

One night in early September, Raymond sat at the bar drinking a vodka martini. He thought he would try one to mix it up a bit. You know—James Bond or Frank Sinatra and Ring-A-Ding-Ding. Then his cell phone rang.

“Jesus Christ, I missed Cub Scouts.” Raymond said.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” Tommy said.

“I’ll have another one of those vodka martinis, Gus. Only this time, go easy on the vermouth. On second thought, forget the vermouth. And the olive.”

But Tommy was right. He’d see his son next week.

Raymond’s brother invited him for Thanksgiving that year. He was excited about leaving town and seeing family. But he put off buying his ticket and the only flight he could get was a redeye Thanksgiving morning. It cost him a fortune, but he couldn't stand the idea of spending the day all alone.

He was crushed when he discovered there was a freak snowstorm in Charlotte and the airport was closed. The next flight wouldn’t be for another six hours and he’d miss Thanksgiving dinner altogether. His brother was flying out to ski in Utah the next day, so there was no point in going. Besides, his brother's kids were first class brats. He wouldn't miss seeing them all that much.

Later that day, Raymond was feeling lonely, so he drove to Bosco’s on the off chance it was open Thanksgiving.

The neon sign was on. Gus had set up a couple of card tables and laid out a sorry looking spread of pressed turkey roll and cut-rate versions of the usual Thanksgiving fair—stuffing, green beans, gelatin desserts and those little square rolls that come all stuck together in an aluminum foil tray. There were a few people milling about the tables with paper plates and drinks in hand. No one was going for the gelatin desserts.

Despite his lack of enthusiasm, Raymond said, “What the fuck.” He filled his plate and decided to get good and drunk. And after a couple of vodka rocks, he felt better. He really perked up when Sally came in. He hadn’t seen her since the night she gave him a blowjob in the parking lot.

“Happy Turkey Day,” Raymond said.

“Glad to see you, honey. I sure could use a little stuffing,”

Raymond didn’t get it. At least not right away.

At noon the following day, he woke up face-down and naked on the floor. Sally was passed out in his plaid La-Z-Boy with nothing on but a pair of high heels and a Yankees batting helmet. Where the hell did the helmet come from? Raymond hated the fucking Yankees.

“How about a little hair of the dog, baby?” Sally asked

She wobbled over to the fridge in her high-heels and took out a couple of beers.

“But we just woke up,” Raymond said.

“It’ll make you feel good as new.”

Raymond had a strict rule. No drinking before noon. But Sally held the beer to his lips and he sucked it down like like it was cool spring water. The better part of a twelve-pack later, Sally said she’d like to drive to Chamblee and go antiquing. Women.

Later that day, heads turned on Peachtree Street as they drove downtown to Bosco’s with a brass chandelier and a moose head strapped to the back of Sally’s Miata.

St. Patrick’s Day fell on a weekend that year and Raymond drank his share of green beer. Monday morning, he sat in his cubicle, head in hands, with blurred images of the weekend flashing and flickering in his brain like the last frames of an old movie. He’d been at Bosco’s Saturday afternoon and all evening. And Gus had let him crash on a cot in the back. But Sunday was black, except for a blurred image of Sally sitting on the edge of her bed crying. He had no idea why, and hoped he hadn’t done anything to hurt her feelings. He really liked Sally. After all, they had a lot in common.

“Raymond, do you feel all right?” Judy asked him, peering over the cubicle wall. “You look like you’re coming down with something.”

“Oh, I’m all right,” he said.

But he wasn’t all right. He had the worst hangover of his life and he knew the only way to cure it was a little hair-of-the-dog. At lunch time, he drove to Bosco’s and had a shot and a beer.

“I see ya had your shot before your beer this time,” Old Bill said. Old Bill sounded somewhat lucid, given it was only noon. “Say, I don’t believe I know your name. I’m Bill. Bill Zakowski. Around here, they just call me Old Bill.

“I’m Raymond.”

He’d told the old fool his name a hundred times. And he tried to remember if he’d ever been to Bosco’s and not seen Old Bill, perched on the same stool, squawking periodically like a drunken parrot.

Raymond stood up and told Gus he had to take a leak. He walked into the men’s room and wiped his forehead with a brown paper towel that felt like sandpaper. Then he put his hand on the condom machine—Ribbed for her pleasure—and leaned forward over the urinal. Overwhelmed by the smell of pine cleaner and old urine, he ran to the stall and puked up his drinks. A waste of perfectly good alcohol.

“Jesus Christ,” Raymond said. He stumbled over to the sink and threw cold water on his face. Then Raymond took his place at the bar and said, “Keep ‘em coming, Gus.”

“Hey Raymond, you don’t look too hot.”

“I said keep ‘em coming, Gus.”

Old Bill got up and dealt his one dollar bills onto the bar. “I went to the doc yesterday and he said if I kept drinking it’d kill me. But they’ve been saying that for ten years.”

Raymond looked over his shoulder and watched the old man walk out into the bright sunshine, laughing and wheezing all the way. Then he realized he was the only person there—except for Gus and he didn’t really count.

When Raymond heard the brakes squeal and a sickening thud, he knew what had happened. He ran out the door with Gus behind him and saw Old Bill lying in the street. Blood was running from his nose and his limbs were askew. His old fedora was at least twenty feet down the street, lying in a puddle. Raymond knelt and put two fingers on the side of Old Bill’s neck. He’d seen that plenty of times on TV.

“I think he’s dead.” Raymond said. A young woman was running back and forth between her car and Old Bill's lifeless body screaming over and over, “I didn’t see him!”

When the police arrived, they took a statement from Raymond. The paramedics drove off with no siren. The doctor said if Old Bill kept drinking it would kill him. If that doctor knew what had happened, Old Bill would sure have had the last laugh.

Raymond went home, called in sick for the afternoon and took a long nap. When he woke up, he stumbled to the sofa, high-stepping over stacks of newspapers and dirty laundry. He looked at a picture on the end table, a photo of his son in his little league uniform. When had he seen him last? It couldn’t have been more than three weeks. Four weeks—tops. He’d cut his wife out of the photo, but could still see her shadow in the foreground, falling across his carefully nurtured lawn. The bitch.

Why had she stopped loving him anyway? So he made a few mistakes. He was only human. She’d made them too. And plenty. Sure, he shouldn’t have worked through his son’s fifth birthday party. And he should have folded his hand before losing the twenty-five hundred bucks they’d saved for their second honeymoon. And he probably shouldn’t have...

He grabbed the remote and turned on the Wheel of Fortune before the litany of his mistakes could unfurl like a runaway roll of toilet paper. After watching for a moment, he hit the remote. That dumb cunt should have just bought another vowel.

He poked at his phone and noticed he had messages.

“Raymond, it’s Sally. After this weekend—I’ve been thinking. I just can’t take it anymore. I could come by and we could go to a meeting together. We could quit together Raymond. Why don’t I...”

Skip.

“Dear, it’s your mother. Your father says he can’t get in touch with you. And I’ve been trying...”

Stop.

Raymond felt the pain in the back of his throat that sometimes comes before tears, but fought them back. Why was he so shaken up? He didn’t give two shits about Old Bill.

A drink or two would help him put things in perspective. He went to the freezer and took out a plastic liter bottle of vodka. But there were only fumes in it. Why put the goddamn empty bottle back in the freezer?

“Just go on down to Bosco’s, Raymond.”

Raymond gasped and said, “What the fuck?”

“I said, just go on down to Bosco’s.”

He turned to see Old Bill leaning over the kitchen counter, cradling a drink. Raymond threw the empty vodka bottle at Old Bill, but it went right through him and bounced off the wall. Old Bill laughed and disappeared like the head on a warm beer.

Raymond was just tired. And traumatized. He’d been through a lot that day. Saw a dead man lying mangled on the street. That’s why he was seeing things. He just needed something to eat. And that drink. Then things would be fine.

The refrigerator was empty as usual, except for a jar of pickle relish and some Tupperware he’d been afraid to open. And a trip to the liquor store was in order. So he showered, shaved and scrawled a shopping list on the back of an envelope. Maybe he’d catch a movie—buy a pint and smuggle it into the theater. While locking his deadbolt, a pretty young woman appeared in the hallway.

“Hello there,” she said. “I’m Katie. I just said to my roommate, we haven’t even met the man next door. We’re having friends over—come in for a drink.”

Jesus Christ. Too perky. The sorority girl type. Raymond hesitated. Considering the events of the day, he wasn’t in much of a mood for small talk, but he certainly didn’t want to be alone either. At the least, he’d get that drink or two he needed—and right away.

“Uh, sure,” he said. “I guess I could—yes that would be nice.”

The woman took his arm and led him through the door. “This is my neighbor. I’m sorry—your name...”

“Raymond,” he said. She led him through the room while people nodded and smiled at him. There were people of all ages: children, teenagers, people his own age and even a couple of blue-hairs, all crammed into an apartment no bigger than his. And they all seemed to be having a fine time.

“What would you like to drink?” Katie asked.

“A beer, please.”

A boy about his son’s age bumped into him and said, “Sorry mister.”

Raymond smiled and said, “That’s okay, son.”

“See my new baseball glove?” the boy said. It’s a Mazuno, Chipper Jones autograph.”

The boy backed up and caught an imaginary pop fly. “He’s out!” Raymond said. The boy smiled, and Raymond could feel that pain in the back of his throat. Chipper Jones was his son’s favorite player.

Katie emerged from the kitchen and gave Raymond his beer. He scanned the room as he drank, and wondered when he had last been around people other than at work or Bosco’s. Watching the boy move through the crowd, receiving pats and hugs, he was suddenly hit by a wave of loneliness and remorse. The boy, the laughter, friendly faces, his neighbor’s hospitality—it all reminded him of what he’d lost. What he’d been missing. He realized he needed to do something. Take some action. Maybe he should call Sally and check out one of those meetings.

But not tonight. After all, he'd started drinking and how would that look? Plus, he was still was feeling sick, and it was now clear he needed more booze than he could drink at a party with a bunch of strangers. Vodka was what he really needed, and plenty of it. He glanced at his watch before pushing his way through the room and out the door. The beer took effect and he felt a little better. But on the way to the liquor store he imagined himself alone in his apartment, drinking cheap vodka from a plastic jug and watching the History Channel.

Fuck that. It would be just as easy to hop on the downtown connector and go to Bosco’s. His real friends would be there, and the night was young. As he drove onto the highway, he could see the lights of the Atlanta skyline, beckoning like the Emerald City.

On arriving at Bosco’s, Raymond inhaled the smoky, stale air like it was pure oxygen. He basked in the recognition as familiar patrons nodded or said his name—even though some turned away as he passed.

Every seat at the bar was taken, except for Old Bill’s—perhaps out of reverence for the old lush. But he didn’t think much of that idea. Before sitting, he walked up to the stool and gave it a spin with his index finger. Gus nodded and smiled, then put a vodka rocks on the bar in front of Raymond.

“Here’s to Old Bill,” Raymond said. “And keep ‘em comin.'”
Now basically what I have highlighted are the common errors I've seen pop up in your story. And I kind of feel like a tosser repeating myself but hopefully at least one point will help you improve your story. Of course you don't have to agree with me or take on board what I have said. this is just some constructive criticism. I'm also probably not your target market either.
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Old 06-02-2017, 02:41 PM
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Filterdreaming, thanks for reading. Not really seeing any "errors" -- mostly just suggestions to add stuff that isn't needed.

For example, if someone is sitting at a computer playing hearts, what more would you really need to say about "how" he's sitting?

A man sitting at bar with an open collar and loose tie says everything I want or need to say -- he's come in after work to relax and have drink. If there was some reason to portray him as "disheveled," I'd do it in a way that was less telling.

I tend to add detail if it services the story, gives the character some depth, or sometimes to add atmosphere or something poetic or interesting.

Adding detail just for the sake of it doesn't make things "pop." It usually has the opposite effect.

Cheers.
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Old 06-02-2017, 06:31 PM
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He spotted the printing plant, you over use commas.
Running sentences are not grammatically correct
but it was plain the plant had closed long ago.
I think you mean "run-on sentences" and this is not one. You and brianpatrick can talk about commas all day long, but using a comma before a conjunction is usually the preferred way to go.

You know that saying that those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones? Those who don't know spelling and grammar shouldn't critique others on it.
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Old 06-02-2017, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by moonpunter View Post
I think you mean "run-on sentences" and this is not one. You and brianpatrick can talk about commas all day long, but using a comma before a conjunction is usually the preferred way to go.

You know that saying that those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones? Those who don't know spelling and grammar shouldn't critique others on it.


Ha ha!

Fuck you MP!

Post me a story and we'll talk.
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Old 06-03-2017, 06:32 AM
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You and brianpatrick can talk about commas all day long, but using a comma before a conjunction is usually the preferred way to go.
Apples and oranges.

I know where the commas should go -- technically. But sometimes when it comes to flow, they aren't really needed.

In my opinion, BP tends to go a little overboard with taking them out, but I feel like he's making a subjective decision based on knowing where they belong and making a choice. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I don't.

I don't think about it all that much, or necessarily think about it in terms of separating clauses, but I always read my work aloud, and if it feels like a natural pause, I usually leave it in.

Look at the first sentence of this story -- the comma is not only correct grammatically, you would likely never say that out loud without pausing after "boy."

Or this:

He spotted the printing plant, but it was plain the plant had closed long ago.
Again, not only is there a natural pause there, the conjunction comes before an independent clause, so you would use a comma. It's especially odd to use it as an example of overusing commas.

So Filterdreaming is way off on both counts and his advice can be safely ignored.

Otherwise, this is how I tried to explain it someone:

Imagine that what you've written is being read aloud by speech recognition software where commas are used to indicate a pause.

Would it sound more like robot if the comma wasn't there? If so, leave it in.

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Old 06-03-2017, 09:20 AM
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Let's agree to agree. Lol
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Old 06-03-2017, 02:23 PM
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Well, that's fine.

It seemed like you were somehow equating the two critiques, and I was like -- naw.
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Old 06-03-2017, 03:09 PM
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I'm liberal with commas. My educational era advocated using them wherever a natural pause is needed. I find it harder to stumble through writing with too few commas. Don't recall ever agonising over there being too many.

Breaking news here in Uk that London Bridge has just fallen victim to another incident of pedestrians being mowed down by a van.

...and here I sit, with a mug of tea, contemplating the use of commas...
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Old 06-04-2017, 05:40 AM
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When it comes to writing, commas are one of the least things that people need to be concerned about. A little investigation and practice should take care of any issues.

I only nitpick little things like commas when I see that the rest of what makes good writing and storytelling is there, or at least a good indication things are headed in that direction. Otherwise, what's the point? Like one of my instructors used to say, you're polishing a turd.

...and here I sit, with a mug of tea, contemplating the use of commas...
Reminds me a of poem I read in the aftermath of 9/11. I don't remember much of it beyond one line, but it stuck with me.

...and still the simple problems keep you busy.

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Old 06-05-2017, 03:08 AM
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I just feel that commas distract from the writing. It's annoying and makes me put down a book.
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Old 06-05-2017, 03:53 AM
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Yeah, and we should probably get rid of all those pesky periods while we're at it.
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Old 06-05-2017, 06:13 AM
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I've put down so many books because of comma usage. Lol
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Old 06-05-2017, 06:45 AM
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Maybe all that extra comma ink makes them too heavy.
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Old 06-06-2017, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by moonpunter View Post
I've put down so many books because of insufficient pictures and illustrations. Lol
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Old 06-06-2017, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Mohican View Post
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Now you're going in to edit my posts? You truly are human garbage.

Last edited by moonpunter; 06-06-2017 at 06:25 PM..
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Old 06-06-2017, 06:13 PM
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I just feel they get used when not needed a lot
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Old 06-06-2017, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by moonpunter View Post
Now you're going in to edit my posts? You truly are human garbage.


Well, it could be me editing your posts giving them subtlety, nuance, substance and hope. Would that be better?
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Old 06-06-2017, 07:03 PM
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Yvg?😘😄😳
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Old 06-06-2017, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by moonpunter View Post
I've put down so many books because of comma usage. Lol


You're new avatar is bomb! Ha ha!
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Old 06-07-2017, 12:09 AM
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Raymond and The Emulation of Identity



While I thought it was a fascinating study of the subsumed identity. Aristotle says we are what we repeatedly do but I think Raymond would argue it was only through Aristotelian means that he reached the Platonic form of the drunkard, his end being prefigured in his childhood wish,

Raymond always thought it would be nice to go to a bar after a hard day at the office, just like his old man had.

From the start Raymond fails to identify what it is about his father that he appreciates. He obviously follows in his footsteps but considering his marriage failed and his eventual de facto disownment of his son he fails to draw any real lesson from his father. Now we dont know too much about the father but at the very least we know he raised a decent son and was at least present in the family. When his own family falls apart Raymond makes central what was for the father an ancillary recreation. He reinvents a family at Bosco's where by the end he has succeeded the preceding patriarch, Old Bill.

This misidentification seems at first a wish to live out the aspect of his father's life in which he has not failed knowable from his acknowledgment of the names of the men his father drank with,

Red or Mitch Or Whitey (Also the line flows better with two 'or's')

Then this line again,

Raymond always thought it would be nice to go to a bar after a hard day at the office, just like his old man had.

But this is revealed to be false when he goes to Sluggers and thinks endlessly of quips and witticisms he could say or things he could call himself or call others,

Raymond nodded, and the man introduced himself as Arnold. Why didn’t men have nicknames any more? His hair was red. He could have called himself Red if he'd wanted to.

“I like the Braves chances,” Arnold said, pointing at the TV.

“Yep.” Raymond said. “I do too.”

Raymond was nearly six-three and thought for a moment that he might introduce himself as Stretch.

It is this desire to live out fantasy that seems to be the case of why his marriage has failed. It is not that he cannot comprehend beyond the superficial so much that he refuses to. Evident in the former in his vision of Old Bill's ghost, in the latter in his rapid descent into alcoholism.

There is a line near the beginning where Raymond recounts his father's ritual return to the homestead and how he would,

[R]ub Raymond's head and say, “Hello, old timer.”

This line is echoed in the penultimate paragraph when Raymond takes Old Bill's throne,

Every seat at the bar was taken except for Old Bill's (fuck yo commas ya trick ass four eyed three laced liver spotted owner of a puckered prolapsed anus)-perhaps out of reverence for the old lush. But he didnt think much of that idea. Before sitting he walked up to the stool and gave it a spin with his index finger.

This gesture of fondness recalls his father's rubbing of his head. It is not just here that Raymond finally assumes the identity of the patriarchal drunkard but also where he adopts Bosco as a family generally, and the stool specifically as a child. By this time the history that has lent Raymond depth has been completely annulled, at least from Raymond's perspective, so that he has become nothing more than a two dimensional character, like those characters of the films he imitates and the friends of his father, a part of the background. What we see then isnt just the consumptive elements of alcoholism but the precipatory dangers of a mind obsessed with fantasy.
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Old 06-07-2017, 02:48 AM
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Not much to add, except that's the best thing I've read on here for a while. Good stuff.
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Old 06-07-2017, 06:01 PM
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bluewpc -- I really enjoyed and appreciated you comments.

I've had people analyze my work before and usually it's hit or miss. They often see things I didn't remotely intend, which of course if perfectly fine.

I would say most of what you said was intended and conscious -- aside from any allusions or connections to Aristotle or Plato -- to the point where I was concerned it was too obvious and predictable.

But in general, I think all good writing comes down to some understanding of human behavior over anything else. If any of this had the ring of truth or reality to you -- well, that's good enough for me.
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Old 06-07-2017, 11:21 PM
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Good enough for anyone I reckon.

Now about those goddamned commas...
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Old 06-08-2017, 04:13 AM
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Rincewind -- hey -- thanks for reading. Glad you liked it. Cheers.

bluewpc -- most people aren't going to go all apoplectic if they come across a properly placed comma.

Could I lose some of them? Sure. But for the most part, they do what they're supposed to do.

I'm not a pedantic writer. I use lots of fragments, start sentences with conjunctions, use em dashes to place emphasis etc. And I totally get the whole flow and rhythm thing.

I'm not looking at a style or grammar guide as I write. For the most part, I just put the commas in where it feels right.

And I think most readers who aren't obsessed or overthinking this whole comma thing automatically take in the commas as natural pauses -- just like when they speak.

Otherwise, I'm not going to alter my style to address someone's pet peeve.

Last edited by Myers; 06-08-2017 at 04:21 AM..
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Old 06-08-2017, 05:39 AM
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Haha nor should you. If we all wrote the same way itd get boring fast. Truth be told I only blather on about those things not because I want anyone to change just so that they understand where I'm coming from. God now that I say that it sounds selfish as all get out so apologies for that.
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