Wednesday, July 23, 2008

But I didn't really mean....

Have you ever been misunderstood? As in you say something, and someone takes it totally wrong? I had one of those moments in a writing exercise a few months back. Here is what happened and how my two zany characters, Shannon Wallace and Dwayne Brown communicate. Or... not.

Use these words in a piece: viper, tomatoes, chocolate syrup,
Crocs (the shoes) and a nail file.

It wasn’t just the chocolate syrup that led me into the small alcove we called a kitchen, although the sweet, sticky mess certainly sent my radar into overtime. No, it was the trail of ants that followed the thin, black line of dark gooey stuff that really set me off to the chase.

“Oh good Lord! Dwayne!”

He groaned loudly from the other room. I heard him even from where I stood contemplating insecticide murder.

“What?” He said it a little nastier than I wanted to hear.

“Don’t what me! You left this mess, now come in here and clean it up. You viper, you.”

“What mess?” His Crocs, those hard plastic shoes that I think are the ugliest things around, scraped on the laminate flooring as he shuffled to where I was. He saw what I was looking at and sniffed. “Oh, that mess.” He bit into a red ripe tomato, eating it as though it were and apple. "Hm."

“Hm? Hm, my foot. There must be a million, thanks to you,” I said, grabbing the Raid can. “I promise, if this crap continues, we are so moving. We must have every ant in the universe.”

He watched, amazed, as I annihilated an entire generation of ants. “Um. We can’t move. Our rent is too cheap here.”

I didn’t bother answering. He was right, of course. But I was beginning to hate the antique fixtures, and crumbling paint, paper, and crusty carpet. He took paper towels into the washroom, dampened them and began the task of wiping up syrup, ants, and other germs that I didn’t want to put a name to. "Well, if one of us wasn't such a slob. . . "

I glared at him, even though I knew it was his way of saying he was sorry. “So what was that lady in here about?” I asked.

“Needs videographers to film her son’s soccer game.”

“Are we hired yet?”

“I guess. She has to get the amount approved by her husband or something first,” he said, taking the paper towels to the garbage.

“Did you give her a deadline?”

He returned with fresh ones. I noticed a small stream of sweat across his brow. “No, Wall-ass. She don’t need no deadline. She’ll call back if she’s interested.”

I shrugged and went back to my desk. There were plenty of other things to do while we waited on her or any other potential client. I was elbow deep in previewing footage from a wedding we had shot recently. The lighting had been especially terrible and I worried about whether we had gotten the shots the bride had requested. If the shot was too dark, she might be a little miffed and balk at paying her balance. Some women were truly monsters in white wedding garb.

While the seating of the grandparents went on, I grabbed my nail file and began to clean under my nails, glancing at the monitor every so often. A man with one of the elderly women followed slowly behind her. His face was as red as a tomato, and I wondered what sort of health problem he had. “Going to give himself a good case of stroke here in a minute,” I mumbled.

“You would too if you had to clean up this mess,” Dwayne mumbled back.

I couldn’t contain the laughter that bubbled out. Sometimes he had impeccable timing.


Aaron Paul Lazar said...

This is great, Kim! Loved the banter between Shannon and Dwayne. Very natural and smooth. ;o)

Unknown said...

Very well done. I like it. I especially agree with Shannon about Crocs!

Marta Stephens said...

Kim, I love your dialogue! I don't have to read the whole chapter to see this scene. Very nice!