Here we go, the fourth challenge. This one was enjoyable. A shallow narrator inception. Here’s how it was proposed:
Write 2-4 paragraphs as a narrator who is narrating another narrator.
As writers, we all end up writing about writers. But maybe it’s more fun to write about writers writing about writers (or literal narrators of a sort). We’ll see.
“Strike 3, out, like my ex wife on payday.” Jerry said dryly into the microphone, amid a smattering of clapping and the occasional cheer. The batter stared at his bat accusingly before turning on his heels and heading for the dugout as Jerry reached for a drink before his hangover from this morning started to really set in.
“At least it’s a beautiful day.” Jerry said finally becoming aware of how much dead air was accumulating, not that anyone was listening. Still, management had been riding him increasingly as of late and the truth was he was just spacing out, staring out at the mountains & forgetting he was on the radio, forgetting about his whole life really.
In Jerry’s mind, he’d hit rock bottom. He was a radio announcer for an independent league ball club in South Dakota, the Pierre Patriots. They weren’t affiliated with the majors in any way and mostly consisted of ex cons, mechanics and construction workers from town.
“Up next, Martinez.”
There were so few people in the seats the organ music sounded louder from the echo off all that plastic. Jerry shifted in his seat as he reached for the bottle, suddenly and lucidly aware of the stereotype he had become. “You know folks, these mountains sure are beautiful. ” A pitch was thrown and Jerry didn’t broadcast the call. “Truth is though I’d never have appreciated it twelve years ago, playing for the Yankees as the next big second baseman in town.”
A knock and a face came to the windowed door outside the broadcast booth and when Jerry looked over the nerdy young kid pointed frantically at the field. Suddenly feeling very sober Jerry perked up “line drive over the shortstop into the left center gap but Martinez will have to settle for a single.” Calmly Jerry stood up and locked the door before returning to his seat. “As I was saying, I was convinced baseball was a metaphor for life and vice versa. If life had you down, just keep swinging, grind it out and you’ll be OK. Life, like baseball, only had so many scenarios and there’s a recipe or reaction for each scenario.”
Jerry could feel that the nerd’s eyes had returned to the window. “Life was good- Playing a game by day, wine and women by night. I was sure I had simply figured out what other people had not.” The nerd started to gently knock on the door while jangling the keys in his pocket. Fortunately Jerry had a friend change out the locks on this door that was never locked because he knew this day was coming. It had only cost him a case of beer and some woman’s number.
“Well you know what, baseball is nothing like life because there’s no scenario in a baseball game where the GM’s wife blows you one night to prove some kind of point and the next thing you know you’re booted from the only thing you’ve ever known and one of the most powerful men in the country has effectively put a price on your head by making sure no one who speaks english will hire you and the next thing you know, ten years have passed and you’re in this backwater place making peanuts for pay and wishing you’d get run over by a train. I did learn to love looking at these goddamned mountains though.”
Jerry felt suddenly alive as he noticed the pounding on the door, the ringing phones, and the fire extinguisher being hurtled through the booth window.
I shifted into the high back of the modernistic dining chair, searching for a comfortable position. Across the narrow expanse of dark mahogany table, Brad leaned forward on his elbows as he launched into a story. I knew all too well that his posture meant that we were in for a narrative whose length would only be matched by its self-centered banality. Brad had begun by painting a vivid picture of the parking battle at University Village on the day in question.
I scanned the table for the nearest bottle of wine, and in doing so looked over the rapt audience of our party. Most of my dining companions had known Brad and Suzanne for only a few months. They were likely blissfully unaware of Brad’s incredible capacity to bore. Or perhaps they were just as daft as he was. I exchanged a smile with Janine, the personable if stereotypically mousy tax lawyer, and refilled my glass with overpriced Chardonnay.
The hero of Brad’s tale, Brad, had by this point bravely pushed through the doors of the Apple store and was surveying his surroundings. I savored a long drink of wine before working up the effort to look back over at him. He was clearly reveling in the undivided attention of the dinner party, flashing snow-white veneers as he spoke and the gleam of luxury Swiss watchmaking as he waved his hands for emphasis. He pressed two fingers against a country club-tanned cheek as he described himself artfully dodging islands of product displays and the aimless current of tech tourists obscuring his journey from its ultimate goal.
The candlelight of the La Bête’s private dining room shimmered off his gelled and carefully parted blonde hair. I once had found this man attractive, captivating even. I tucked a few strands of hair behind my ear and shuddered at the thought of trading places with Suzanne now.
Brad’s self-aggrandizing epic was still minutes from reaching its crescendo, and I knew there was no way I could stomach any more of that powerful stream of hubris. I slid down from my chair, excusing myself with a silent wink at Suzanne. Ten gliding paces and I was down the back hallway – past the ladies room and out the back door to the sanctuary of cool night air and nicotine clouds.
Jacob sweats terribly as he writes. I imagine a nose and smell close to his body. It isn’t awful but he has been eating rather clean lately, if not bathing. He’s bent on being an IMPORTANT writer; an author, he says. Right now, he’s trying to write from the point of view of a woman. It doesn’t really matter what woman, because, you know, the last woman he really was close with was his mother. I know, I know, I am the one who wrote him this way and how could I be so disdainful of my own creation. But really, we all must get our kicks somewhere. The shrink tells me I need an outlet. Here he is. Jacob.
So there’s this woman from Hoboken. He even gave her some shit accent. It’s only from the TV and movies. He hasn’t been out of Indianapolis. She’s fucking this guy… OK, of course she is. He has no idea how much he is showing his hand. And of that he needs a lot. His hand, I mean. Anyway, he is talking about thrusting and slick curvaceous breasts bouncing terrifically in the warm afternoon light of some New York tenement. Oh, geez, I just can’t believe this shit. I mean, I can, because I am writing it, but you know, deal with it.
On his walls: nothing. You were waiting for a list, but he’s got an issue with decoration. He doesn’t do it. I’ll take that back. He found a piece of some sticky putty laying around and pushed up some postcard of Bukowski’s ugly mug on the wall. He admires his prolific nature, his worn blue collar, his frankness. Still doesn’t forgive the lack of significant stuff on the walls. Still doesn’t mean you got to emulate some whoring gambler, no matter his authoring chops. Get yourself together, man! I know, I know, he would if I let him. Let’s just get past that already.
So, the woman in this sordid story he’s making up has gotten hers, breathes hard, pulls her hair up in a “high tight pony” (his words), and tells the guy to hit the road. Whoa. A lady with some guff and a sexual appetite of a man. One would think a horny man wrote it. Anyway, looks like it’s her office. Her name etched on the glass door, Josephine Murphy, Private Eye. Wow.