The following is the first chapter from my NaNoWriMo book, tentatively called Two-Timed Out. It’s the first work of fiction I’ve done in a long time1 , and it feels good to get it out of my head and into the world. This is the first 2,000 words; I’m sitting at just under 37,000 words with 10 days to go. It looks like I’ll make it to the 50K needed to consider my first real attempt at NaNoWriMo a success.
This is raw – as in unedited. The editing comes later. Like January later.
I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.2
- Chapter 1 -
“Dude, ” Tristan explained, “you can’t build a Transformer.”
Wish glided awkwardly from the underbelly of the beat-up Hyundai Pony. His body really wasn’t meant for such a small space, let alone the dexterity needed to use the creeper he laid on.
“Who says?” Wish retorted. “I’ve got a bunch of tools, I’ll just cut the car in all the right places. I mean, once I figure out which way PonyBot is going to-”
“PonyBot?” Tristan laughed. “Are you building a gang of Outsider Transformers? Will they merge to become Coppola-sor or something?”
Wish pondered this for a second. After realizing that kind of project would probably be well beyond his skill set, he got back to the task at hand. He slid back under the dilapidated vehicle.
“He’s called PonyBot because he’s a Hyundai Pony, ” replied Wish, somewhat muffled as he worked away underneath the car. “Geez. Now hand me that ratchet, will ya?
Tristan picked up the ratchet off the concrete as he squatted down. He was careful not to let his knees touch the ground, fearing that Wish would let some kind of strange fluid out of the car at any given moment, ruining his barely-broken in pair of jeans. This kind of repair work wasn’t his thing. He did his work with paper and pen, occasionally a laptop. His well-groomed blond hair and casual attire suggested he paid attention to his appearance, but that wasn’t the case. He just knew what felt comfortable and right to him, and went with it. Jeans, button-down shirt, plain colors - nothing too flashy. His complexion was well taken care of as well, only slightly sun-kissed - and not artificially so. He didn’t even care about the fact you could clearly see his Hipster PDA slightly protruding from his breast pocket, like some sort of pocket protector. It was simple, and Tristan liked simple.
“Wish, we really need to get to Eddie’s place,” Tristan said as he placed the tool in Wish’s outstretched fingers.
“We’ve got a ton of shit to go over.”
Wish appeared from under the vehicle again, this time overcompensating for his girth and sliding right off the creeper and hitting the ground.
“Ow,” muttered Wish, “that kinda hurt a little. You’d think my butt could absorb such a small fall from grace, but not really. I really gotta start hitting the gym again. The ladies may start to stray if I let this go.”
Wish ran his hands down his body, as Tristan’s head dropped to his chest.
“All right. I’ll go get cleaned up.”
Wish was a generally good guy, and he wasn’t even that unattractive, but he was just so over-the-top at times that he had the ability to both wear out his welcome and be the life of the party at the same time. He’d been dubbed Wish ever since the guys had known him, and it stuck. Tristan and Eddie would always get a laugh when his mother would call him Allowicious.
“Allowicious! Bring me some nacho chips!”
“Allowicious! I can’t get my mobility scooter out of the garage! Move that goddamn thing you call a car!”
“Allowicious Baxter Juvie! Did you eat all the Choco-Puffs?!”
Wish would just sulk upstairs from his basement suite, or shout back up the stairs, depending on the mood.
Wish returned as quickly a he’d left. He’d cleaned up. His messed-up wavy hair barely covered his ears, a kind of Beatlesque bowl cut mixed with more hair product than most men would care to admit they used themselves. His pudgy face, pudgy torso, pudgy everything was something he both embraced and struggled with for years. He wasn’t the sharpest dresser, either - but knew well enough to wear clothes that actually fit his body type. That sense was eventually drilled into him by Tristan and Eddie. But he’d still throw in those phrase-filled T-shirts - one fashion statement he wasn’t willing to let go. Today’s shirt said: TAKE IT ALL IN, BABY. Nice.
“Let’s go. Eddie’s waiting,” Tristan said as he walked towards his newish two-door sedan.
“I know, I know.”
Tristan popped the car into first and they were off. It was only about a ten minute drive to Eddie’s house, even though it seemed longer to Tristan with Wish’s prattling on about the “the two chicks he met last night” and the CD he insisted he play with en-route. Wish had slid his mixed CD of one-hit wonders into the player before Tristan could even make an attempt to intercept. It was pretty amazing that a man who had a few extra pounds on him could be so adept when it came to electronics.
Glenn Medeiros’ “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You” played over the stereo as Tristan kept his hands firmly entrenched at the “ten and two” position. Wish swayed back and forth to the rhythm, while Tristan plotted out not only course of his route to Eddie’s place, but also what they’d do when they got there. Tristan was pretty sure Eddie would be out in his yard, working away on his yard. If Eddie didn’t have to be in front of a computer, he wasn’t. Tristan was always amazed at the balance that Eddie had managed to achieve. Eddie didn’t live to work, he worked to live. He was the most intelligent of the trio, and definitely the most grounded. If Tristan was the catalyst of the group’s efforts, and Wish was the risk-taking, fun-loving one - then Eddie was the voice of reason. In fact, the guys got more work done at Eddie’s place because of that very reason, and because his wife was such a great cook.
“This is such an awesome song,” chimed Wish, “Whatever happened to that guy, Glenn Menudo?”
“Glenn Medeiros. He sings this song. Menudo is a Puerto Rican boy-band.”
“I could’ve sworn it was Glenn Menudo.”
“Nope. He isn’t even Puerto Rican, he’s Portuguese.”
“Wow,” Wish pondered. “Well, close enough, I guess.”
“Close enough? That’s a stretch. Maybe if you factor in the 1980’s popularity coupled with the fact they both start with the letter M.”
“Well, that and the whole Port-o thing.”
Tristan looked at Wish. “What Port-o thing?”
“Think about it. Puerto Rico. Port-uguese. It’s pretty clear when you say it out loud. They both start with ports, right?” Wish looked proud of his supposed discovery. “And they are of Spanish influence.”
Tristan decided it would be best if they stopped talking. Besides, he thought, Aldo Nova’s “Fantasy” was now playing anyway.
Wish was pounding a drum solo on the dashboard as they pulled into Eddie’s driveway, clearly lip-synching as well.
They got out of the car, walked up to the door and saw the note that Eddie had taped up: OUT BACK. They turned back and headed down the path to the backyard.
Eddie was there, all right. He was methodically digging a small hole with a garden shovel in an arbitrary spot in the yard. In fact, as Tristan and Wish looked around, they saw about six or seven of these holes throughout the yard - some haphazardly covered up, other left wide open. They approached Eddie, avoiding each hole as they went. Eddie was lean and pale, the kind of guy you’d expect to see living in front of a computer. Wire-framed glasses, short dark hair - even his hands looked as if he’d never done a speck of menial labour n his life. He protected his hands with gloves when doing the yard-work, a testament to what they meant to him. He was a little sweaty, but incredibly focussed as he dug.
“Eddie,” Tristan called out, “what in the hell are you doing?”
“Digging,” he replied, without skipping a beat and digging all the while.
“Well, yeah, but what for?” Tristan asked.
Wish couldn’t contain himself.
“You’re wrecking your yard, man!”
“No,” explained Eddie, “the dog is wrecking the yard.”
Eddie’s wife had bought a puppy about three weeks back, basically to replace her long-time companion Sabrina, a German Shepherd she’d had since she went to college. Sabrina died a few months previous, and Eddie knew it was inevitable that a new pup would find its way to their household in short order. Problem was, their two kids were too young and disinterested in helping out with the new addition to the family, and Eddie’s wife worked days. Eddie, as a result, had his hands full with work, family - and now dog.
“You see,” continued Eddie, “my wife loves our backyard. Loves what we’ve done with it. I mean, it’s been neatly groomed over the past couple of seasons…we’ve worked really hard to get it looking this good. Or, as good as it was.”
“So you’re going to blame the dog for all of this?” Tristan asked, knowing full-well what the answer was.
“Yep. I figure, she’ll see the damage that the dog did, and put it up for sale. It’s a beautiful plan, really.”
“I don’t know, Eddie,” Tristan said. “I mean, that dog cost you a lot of money, and it’s a pretty rare breed. You really think she’ll get rid of it based on a few holes?”
“Rare breed?” Wish piped up. “How rare?”
“Really rare. It’s a Portuguese Podengo Medio,” Eddie replied.
“Glenn Medeiros is Portuguese.”
“Don’t worry about it, Eddie,” Tristan interrupted. “You ready?”
Eddie nodded and dropped his shovel on the ground, and Tristan and Wish followed him through the sliding doors leading from the backyard into the house. Eddie’s kitchen was pretty contemporary, with a woman’s touch here and there, but not so much that it dominated the room. Much of the house was like this, with the exception of the bathroom. It was as if the room was where Eddie’s wife had decided to put all “the girl-ness known to man”, as Eddie put it.
The three men sat at the kitchen table, and Tristan pulled out his Hipster PDA and bullet pen. Wish had already done his customary “beer grab” from Eddie’s fridge, which finally after years of exclusion finally included one for Eddie as well, and a bottled water for Tristan.
“I’m not really sure we should do this,” stated Eddie, who usually started off these brainstorming sessions. “I’m happy with us just working on our independent stuff, getting grants here and there and having full control over our projects.”
“Look, man,” Wish responded, “I think we’d be stupid not to do this. I mean the money’s right, we’re pretty much given free rein anyway. Eddie, you get to work with a state-of-the-art editing suite, I get to play with all the latest camera gear, and Tristan - you get that writer-slash-producer credit you’ve been looking for. Not to mention the screen time you’re going to get. On network TV, no less! What’s to think about here?”
Tristan soaked all of this in. Both of them had good points. Tristan liked the freedom they had as a small independent production team, but wasn’t so fond of the lack of financial rewards and security. The grants were getting harder to come by, too. But this new project was such an unknown. All he knew was that it was optioned and slated for network production, and that the creator-executive producer would be the host while Tristan and Wish would go out into the field and Eddie would edit everything into a thirty minute show. He wasn’t sure about the nature of the material, either. All he’d been told about the content was that “it was timely…and the viewing public would lap it up.” But the money was going to be good. Really good. And Wish was right - they’d be using top-notch production equipment for the first time. Ever. The opportunity could really help them “break in” and get them to the point where they could do the “passion projects” they really wanted to do. The pros seemed to outweigh the cons.
“I think we should do it,” Tristan stated with authority. “This could lead to so much more for us, and we may not get this opportunity again.”
Eddie looked right at Tristan, then glanced down at Tristan’s simplistic PDA. He hadn’t written a thing on it except for the heading: NETWORK SHOW DISCUSSION.
“Glad to see you made some notes,” Eddie said disappointingly as he got up, grabbed his beer and went into his office at the end of the hall.
“Let him go, man,” Wish said as he took a swig of beer. “You made the right call, Tris.”
Tristan, beer in hand, stood up and headed down the hall to Eddie’s office.
“Right call,” Wish called after him. He then grabbed Tristan’s pen and PDA, wrote exactly what he just said underneath the heading, accompanied with a drawing of a hand giving the “thumbs up” sign. Wish then looked around cautiously, and continued to doodle on subsequent pages.
Tristan entered the office, where Eddie was meticulously working on his computer. The office was laid out very systematically, so Eddie could slide back and forth around the room as his workflow dictated. A PowerMac G5 was at the far left, with two cinema displays placed together, each about twenty-three inches or so in size next to the tower. His keyboard was multi-colored, marking any sort of hot-key and macro combinations he needed to speed up the editing process. Above the computer was a grey floating shelf with a small fan, which was always running, and yet the room was still uncomfortably warm. Further down the massive desk to the right was a MIDI keyboard, which had a fairly thick layer of dust on it. Next to that was a small workspace for making notes, and a black halogen desk lamp to read by. The whole room was decorated with metallics, even down to the wall clock mounted right about the empty spot on the desk. It was if this room didn’t belong in the house at all, and if you spent enough time in it, you’d come out to a refreshingly different atmosphere. That was part of what kept Eddie balanced.
“Hey,” Tristan said, “you okay?”
Eddie kept working.
“C’mon, Eddie. I have thought about this whole thing, you know. This wasn’t a snap decision. I took everything into account.”
Eddie wheeled his chair around to face Tristan.
“Look, Tris,” Eddie replied, “I’m not a fan of this producer-guy that wants us on board. I have a bad feeling about him. He seems really slimy. I told you when we started working together that I didn’t want to work with those types.”
“What about Wish?” countered Tristan. “He’s kind of slimy, isn’t he? You work with him.”
“Wish is different,” stated Eddie. “He’s harmless. Besides, I don’t think so much slimy as he is trying to be suave and failing miserably. This guy, though, he’s creepy. Slimy creepy.”
“It’s not going to be forever, man. Maybe it’ll only last one season.”
“That might be one season too many for my taste,” Eddie sighed. “Look, I’m on board if you and Wish are. I’m trusting you here. You’re the guy that makes things happen. Just don’t do this with your eyes closed. Remember, it’s not just you - we’re all in this together.”
Wish appeared from around the corner, bringing his arms into the air in a “raise the roof” motion.
“Yeah. Just like High School Musical, Tris,” he exclaimed, breaking into song. “We’re all in this together, once we know that we are, we’re all starts and we see that-”
Wish continued, “C’mon guys, raise the roof, do the Zac Efron!” He danced in the office, spinning Eddie’s chair with Eddie still in it, and attempting to promenade with Tristan.
The others marveled at his efforts, with Tristan eventually joining in and Eddie sitting, drinking, and taking it all in.
The meeting now wrapped, the beers empty and decision made, the three of them left the comforts of Eddie’s house and into the coziness of Tristan’s sedan. As they buckled themselves in, Wish looked around the car’s interior from his position in the back.
“You know, Tristan,” Wish commented, “I’ve never really noticed it before, but this is a nice little car you’ve got here.”
“Nice lines, well-made…you know, I’m pretty sure we could turn this thing into an ally for PonyBot with the right tools.”
Tristan shook his head as he backed the “potential Transformer” out of Eddie’s driveway.
Photo credit: the trial (CC BY-ND 2.0)
1 And, no...this isn't the book project I've been covertly referring to over the past while. But an update for those who want to know all about it finally arrives this week. 2 Big thanks to Cheryl DeWolfe for motivating me to post this, as she did with the first chapter of her book. I’m loving what I’ve seen of her NaNoWriMo work so far.