The Big Bad Wuss

This really happened a few years ago–although I took poetic license at times. I wrote this from the biker’s perspective. Enjoy.

The Big Bad Wuss
by
Chris O’Brien

I’m the big bad wolf to  her.  I glide my left leg over my Harley, unzip my black leather jacket and pull a pack of cigarettes out of the jacket sleeve all in one well-practiced move. 

Her car window is rolled down, her arm resting on the window frame.  She pretends not to notice me, but I’m watching her watching me as I go through the motions.  She looks like one of those prissy girls.  And I happen to know that Miss Priss’s have fantasies about bad boys.

I saunter over to her car.

“Looks like it’s going to be a long wait.  You might as well get out and stretch.”

“So you think it’s going to be a while?” she says her voice enticingly shaky.

“Could be up to thirty minutes,”  I said slowly exhaling cigarette smoke, squinting my eyes, taking her in.

As she got out of the car, she tugged at the bottom of her red tee shirt.

Cute, I thought.  She’s wearing her blue jeans and a little red tee, but my guess is that she’s a girly girl, more comfortable in a frilly dress and high heels.

The wind caught her long hair and wrapped it around her face.  She pulled a scrunchie out of her jeans pocket.  Bunching her hair in one hand, she wrapped the scrunchie around it with the other.

“Where you heading?” I growled.

She hesitated, “um, Reno.”

“What do you know, me too!  I’m staying at the Nugget.”

She looked up abruptly and blurted out “So am I!”

‘My name is Michael and you’re…” I prompted.

“I’m Michelle.”

“Michael-Michelle,” I said turning the coincidence over in my mind.

Let’s meet for a drink later, I nearly commanded.

“Well, I’m meeting my sister in Reno. It’s actually my Grandma’s 85th birthday.”

“Yeah, well if it works,” I said suddenly casual, not wanting to scare her off.  “The last name is Dalton.  You can call the front desk and get my room number.”

Then, “Say, what’s that puddle under your car?” I asked.

She raised both hands to her face and squealed “A puddle!  Is that coming from my car?”

“Step aside,” I said stoutly.

I squatted.  She squatted close beside me, trembling.  I dipped my fingers into the puddle and rubbed the fluid between my fingers. 

“It feels like oil and water.  Could be the water pump.”

“Maybe I should turn around and go back home.  I’d forget the whole trip but I’ve baked my Grandma’s birthday cake,” she nearly cried. 

It was then and there that I transformed into the valiant prince.

“Don’t you worry, Michelle, I won’t abandon you.  I’ll make sure that you get to your Grandma’s birthday party.” 

“Well, I don’t know,” she said haltingly.  “I don’t want to slow

you down.” 

“I’ve got nowhere to be in a hurry.  That’s it.  I’ve made up my mind, Michelle, I’m getting you to Reno.”

A blend of relief and fear seemed to fix on her transparent face.

Then, I blew it.

Squatting as we were beside Michelle’s car, this amazing intoxicating scent floated on the soft summer breeze.  Leaning in closer to her, unable to help myself, I spoke in a whisper, “Michelle, the better to smell you.” 

She stood up abruptly.

“What are you talking about?  What are you doing?”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.  I’ve been in the hospital for over a month.  I had heart surgery.  My heart has lost thirty percent of its function the doctors said.  Your smell, your perfume was so lovely.”

I felt like a fool, everything came blurting out.  I knew that I was out of control.

“I nearly died on the table!  Now, I notice things that I never noticed before.  It’s like I have this extra sensory awareness.  Like, fuck, even the butterflies on that pile of bear shit over there.  Pardon my language.  I used to only notice the shit on the road, now I notice the butterflies, their colors, the way they waver in the air with a delicate uncertainty.  Their fragility.  Life’s fragility.  Your transient beauty!  That fragrance!”

Michelle looked around, seemingly embarrassed by my passionate rush of emotion.

I looked down the road at the long line of cars.  All of them were waiting for the road to be cleared so that they could continue on their way.  Michelle and I were the only ones who ventured out and made a connection.  Everyone else was so damn isolated.  I felt the need to apologize but at the same time, I felt I was being the most sincere that I’d ever been.

Michelle looked at me disdainfully. 

“You’re, you’re an impostor,” she said.  “You’re not a bad boy at all, are you?”

“I never said that I was a bad boy, Michelle.”

“You were playing the part.”

“At first, I admit it.  Michelle, meet me in Reno for a drink, please.” 

“I just want to swing my car around and go home,” she said.

Then she looked into my eyes and kissed me hard on the lips.

Then There Are Hooks…

In writing, how is a hook different than a portal?  Or is it different.

If a portal is an opening, an entrance, isn’t a hook also that?  Not exactly.

A hook is that particular line written with the purpose of snagging a reader…to convince the reader that they want to read further.  When a book cover is designed, it is designed with this in mind–to invite the reader to open the book and read more; and then to buy the book.  Preferably, the writer places the hook in the opening paragraph, typically it’s the opening line.  That’s a big responsibility for one line!

How do you browse when you’re looking to buy a book?  You want something new to read.  You choose the genre–fiction or nonfiction–that whittles it down.  Let’s say you choose fiction.  Of course, within fiction there are many categories.  If you choose sci fi fantasy, you’ve narrowed your choice further.  Then you might choose a favorite author in this field.  Or you might randomly pick up books, read the cover (has it won any awards), you might read the endorsements or testimonials on the first few pages.

Or, you might open to the middle of the book, randomly reading whatever is on page 103…  Then again, you might read the first sentence of the first paragraph that begins the story.

What hooks you when you are looking for a book?  Those same things are hooks for others.

Let’s play…

A fun thing to do with fellow writers (or solo) is to write sentences that could act as hooks…

Here are a few of mine:

  1.  The money had run out.
  2.  Her voice became white sound to him.
  3. His hands clenched the picket sign, “Stop experimentation on animals.”
  4. Staring at her, he overflowed his coffee cup.
  5. He came out of the restroom, gave a nod and fell to his knees.
  6. The snow report warned of avalanche danger.

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Any one of these could be a hook for a reader.  And, it is also a portal for the writer to begin to tell more of the story.

 

 

The Story of Pandora’s Box

I’m guessing you’ve read this Greek myth.

For the writer, writing has a quality of opening Pandora’s Box. When I write, I’m opening up more than my journal or notebook, I’m opening the unknown.  In the unknown, everything, all possibilities, exist.  What is going to be roused in me or you remains to be seen.  That which has remained hidden to yourself is given an opportunity to emerge. This can feel scary. Feelings can be tweaked, excavated trauma (I’ve referred to this in an earlier blog).  You decide if it’s worth bringing up again in this unearthing.

With writing (especially fiction and poetry) and art-making, there is nothing straightforward.  You don’t just sit down and write and remain unruffled.  You are taken places.  You volunteer for this journey a bit unwittingly.  “Yes, I’m a writer therefore, I write!” What you soon come to realize is that you have gone down a rabbit hole and you are being compelled as much as you have chosen the journey.

Who or what are you going to meet along the way?  White rabbits, card soldiers, tin men,  fairy queens, purple people eaters.  You don’t know.  It’s yet to be discovered.  Which Pandora’s lid is going to be opened in you?  What is going to leap out from your own inner underworlds and scare the heck out of you?  How did that get in there?  You can turn tail and run; slap your journal shut and find another interest.

Or you can continue the venture of discovery and inner sorting through the writing process.

Writing Prompt:
Consider how you manage your own writing journey.  If you are writing Non-fiction, are you less likely to encounter the unknown?  Or, in your research, do you uncover something that sends you there–into the unknown–regardless?  If you are writing fiction, do you get thrown off course when you are diverted down the rabbit hole?  What does getting back on track look like for you?  Or is the diversion where your writing really wants to go?  Is there a best way to sort the chaff from the gold and carry on?  Scan_0004

 

 

 

 

 

Opening my journal…
opening to the unknown.

Do You Enjoy Writing?

“What are the greatest pleasures of writing fiction?” is the question the interviewer posed to Jennifer Egan and Carmen Maria Machado.  This short video, less than three minutes, is very revealing about writer’s process.

Whether fiction or nonfiction, do you find pleasure in writing?

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These two authors declare that they are on opposite ends of the spectrum as to how they approach their writing.

Are either of their approaches true for you?  While Jennifer seeks “escape” through writing, Carmen enjoys “organizing her mind into a narrative form.”  What about you?    Or is there something else entirely that guides your writing process?

For me the pleasure in writing comes when I engage “the flow.”  Then I feel both compelled and supported.  That is when I notice that things in my world become synchronistic.  There is a sense of no separation between me, the world, the words on the page.  It is both my process of self-discovery and a broader curiosity that propel my writing.  The real gift for me comes in being able to share what I’ve learned with others, inspiring them and inviting them to embark upon their own inward journey of self-awareness and integration through writing.

WRITING PROMPTS:
What brings you the greatest pleasure in writing ?  What is your “golden door,” your favored entry into writing?  If you aren’t sure, consider things you’ve already written and recall how you began and what lead you onward.