Mrs. Richardson had been yelling at the kid the fifth-grade girl who came around to our door begging money to pay the babysitter Mrs. Richardson yelled at the grandchild for three days, and spanked her then they were crying, in different parts of the building all the while, their phonograph repeated “the angels sing, glory […]
When someone speaks of an event while quoting someone else, how accurate is that quotation? How much is a recasting by the teller, perhaps years after the event being related?
In drafting my newest novel, as I turned to a first-person narrative by someone who never even met many of the characters she’s telling about, I realized that her quoting them was actually a filtering through her own voice. In other words, the precision of their voice was in question. Would it be right to put their input in quotations marks? Or eliminate the quotation marks and let the telling float in and out of some recollection?
I’ve opted for the latter. Will it work for the reader, though? We’ll see.
A three-year-old girl held a life-size Mr. ZIP’s cardboard hand in her own while waiting for Daddy or an interior lobby stoplight to change. Can we go now? These days, she must be my wife’s age. To continue, click here. Copyright 2015
“George’s problem is he’s too affectionate – he expresses himself” one woman confided loudly in a restaurant unlike the usual complaint To continue, click here. Copyright 2015
With Christmas break, they were soon pulled apart. Call me, write me, we’ll be back together in no time. In an unbearably long anticipation.
In the next-door apartment, a sadist beat the tar out of a wailing baby: “Louder, you miserable bastard, I want to hear it hurt!” Like dropping a cat down the sewer. In those days, you didn’t call the police or social workers.
Some things shift for the better. In Aunt Berthanna’s hallway, purple vase hoarded who knew what mementos.
Ah! Home! A refrigerator filled with plastic. The disordering of her “DORN!” or worse yet, “DORN LUCAS!” yelled up that stairwell had conditioned him to cringe even when someone cried out his surname “MACKENZIE! DORN MACKENZIE!” in a cranky mothers’ tone. If it’s so almighty important, let her come to him. She demanded he interrupt his schoolwork, the term papers and final exams due immediately on his return to campus, dash downstairs, listen to her complaint, then run to the basement for a can of string beans or to the attic for an empty hat box. He saw how she’d rather watch soap operas than her own life or chat away precious hours with self-defeating apologies, while ignoring answers square before herself. He and his contemporaries were determined not to become like their parents. Never!
Fortunately, there was mail, for this was a time when long-distance phoning was prohibitively expensive for anything but the shortest conversations. The kid and Pepper’s imaginations took flight, unhindered by vocal tone, twitches, or embarrassing pauses. Sometimes they even achieved acrobatics of phrasing and mental doodling normal speech foreclosed. Had they been able to keep our relationship at this epistolary level, all might have remained, well, nearly divine. Of course, most people require their saints to come with flesh attached. The kid missed his Pepper and her endless supply of kisses. Nothing was more real than that.
For more from my THIRD RAIL collection, click here.
All the fat girls in town had congregated in this Laundromat to giggle at a skinny hippie. When they sat, mouths agape, stomachs bulged more than their breasts. Everywhere, there’s a pecking order. The manager in her blue scarf and coat fluttered in to chase neighborhood children out. “They mess the place up. I don’t […]
in the median strip of Route 17 just north of Pennsylvania Paula and I found a road map of Fayette County, Tennessee “you wanna talk about getting lost?” all these vehicles entering a busy traffic circle are just a matter of shuffling cars . as the matron confided, “Harry and I used to go down […]