Thursday, July 24, 2008

Flight Delayed

My boarding pass said to arrive three hours early, you know, to check my bags and get through security. And so, three hours early I arrived to an empty airport and no lines for baggage checking or security. Apparently, I was on the last flight out that night. I’m not from Philadelphia and was trying to get home, so my only option was to wait it out.

The Philadelphia airport is shaped like a massive “H”, with the hundred-yard crossbeam serving as a giant stretch of mall. If nothing else, I’d have plenty to do while I waited to board. The newsstand was my first stop. Perhaps, I thought, I can find something to read, you know, get my mind off of things. I’d already read the news of the day, so I walked by the newspapers. The magazines were mostly cologne and fashion ads, so I didn’t linger long in front of them, either. A bookshelf spanned the back wall. Popular fiction trash lined the shelves from one side to the other, top to bottom. Dozens of copies of Dan Brown, John Sandford, Clive Cussler and a dozen more like them. Nothing I could really sink my mind’s teeth into.

Foiled, I left the shop and checked my watch. Five minutes.

Damn.

It had felt like twenty.

This was going to be a long night.


To read the rest of this story, you can purchase it here for the Kindle in the collection "The Accidental Date and Other Stories of Longing, Romance and Woe", or click the button below to order a .PDF of the collection.

The collection contains 11 other stories from me, Bryan Young.






Monday, July 07, 2008

Pirate Club Vs. The Birdwatcher Club

So, Derek asked me for a four page Pirate Club short on really short notice to try to have ready soon.

Truth be told, four pages is a really tough nut to crack.

This is what I came up with....

PAGE 1:
Panel 1:
John, standing like a captain, arms folded behind his back, is in front of an old-school wheeled cannon, aimed up at a tree.

Bear and Bat are to the other side of the cannon, faces frothing with blood lust.

Mike is behind the cannon, holding the rope to pull to set it off.

JOHN: Members of the Bird Watchers club! The Pirate Club is prepared to board but we’re willing to grant you a most generous offer!
(beat)
Surrender to us and we’ll only steal your booty, but you’ll leave with your lives!
(beat)
Or, we can do this the hard way!

Panel 2:

The bird watchers tree house. Telescopes sprout from every window...

A small head is peeking from the bottom of a window.

BIRD WATCHER: (in a small, timid font) Never!

Panel 3:

Close on John, with Mike in the background.

JOHN: Fire the warning shot.

Panel 4:

Mike yanks the cord at the back of the cannon as hard as he can, a cannonball is making it’s way up in an awesome explosion.

PAGE 2:

Panel 1:

The same as page 1, panel 2, but the cannon ball has ripped a groove out of the roof, which is now on fire.

Panel 2:

Inside the birdwatcher tree house, the head birdwatcher is arguing with his men (who all have binoculars around their necks.)

BIRD WATCHER: We have to surrender... If we don’t, they’ll kill us...

BIRD WATCHER #2: Or worse!

Panel 3:

BIRD WATCHER #3: I say we stand our ground! We’re men, right?! We can fight back!

BIRD WATCHER: Obviously, you’ve never dealt with the Pirate Club before...

Panel 4:

BIRD WATCHER #3: I bet they’re not so tough.

BIRD WATCHER #2: You won’t be saying that when Bearclaw is smashing your kidney into oblivion with the strength of a bear!

BIRD WATCHER: Or if Bat attacks your balls... I hear she kicked a guy’s balls through his stomach and he died!

Panel 5:

You can see the horror on birdwatcher #3’s face.

BIRD WATCHER #3: Maybe we SHOULD surrender...

Page 3:

Panel 1:

Same as page 2 panel 1, except the birdwatcher club leader is waving a whit flag out the window.

Panel 2:

Close on John...

JOHN: You see! Terror IS a Pirates friend.

Panel 3:

The six kids in the bird watcher club (all with binoculars around their necks, still) are lined up in a row with their hands up.

John is pacing in front of them, hands behind his back.

JOHN (CONT’D): You’ve made a wise choice.
(beat)
Mike! Loot their club house. Take all the booty you can find.

Panel 4:

Mike.

MIKE: Aye aye, Cap’n.

Panel 5:

John again with the birdwatchers in the background all looking horrified.

JOHN: Bearclaw, Beatrice. Go to work.

Page 4:

Panel 1:

Bat and Bear are savagely attacking the birdwatchers.

BEAR: ROAR!

BAT: Eat this!

Panel 2:

The leader of the birdwatchers, his face bruised, battered, broken and bloodied, is laying on the ground in front of John.

Bear is in the background mauling a birdwatcher, Bat is near him kicking another in the balls.

BIRD WATCHER: I thought...*cough*...if we surrendered, you would let us live...

Panel 3:

John laughing.

JOHN: Hahahaha!
(beat)
As soon as the Pirate Club chose the Birdwatcher club as its target, your fate was sealed. You birdwatchers spend so much time looking at the world from afar, you didn’t realize what was right in front of you!

Panel 4:

The leader of the birdwatchers again

BIRD WATCHER: But, you promised...

Panel 5:

John again

JOHN: Only cowards surrender and pirates don’t abide cowards.
(beat)
Next time, you should take your beatings like a man.

Panel 6:

John kicks the Bird Watcher in the face.

The End...

The Fine Print

A friend of mine is putting together a play and asked me to write a segment of it. The idea for the play is quite an interesting one, one that uses various mixed media. But it tells stories from Greek drama in short contemporary situations adapted by writers like myself. The story I was adapting was that of a roadside charlatan, offering people the perfect nights sleep in a magical bed that fit whoever laid in it. What he didn't tell people was that if they were too tall, he'd cut their legs off and those that were too short were stretched on a rack.

It was an interesting moral that I had some fun adapting to the here and now, and the closest thing I could come up with for a contemporary setting were the used-car-salesmen and check cash emporium sorts of bastards that we see on every street corner now.


INT. A LIVING ROOM

A couch is in the middle of the stage, and a YOUNG MARRIED COUPLE cuddles on it, watching the audience as though they were a TV.

Faint audio can be heard of a no-money down, no credit, bankruptcy, no problem auto loan store as though it’s on the television.

The couple chats, as lovers do, preoccupied more with each other than the television, until...
A doorbell rings.

YOUNG MAN
You expecting someone?

YOUNG WOMAN
No...
(beat)
Are you?

YOUNG MAN
(checking his watch)
I wonder who it could be at this hour.

YOUNG WOMAN
(turning the “tv” off with the remote)
It’s probably one of your friends,
drunk again, wanting to crash...

YOUNG MAN
(getting up to answer the door)
That only happened once.

He gets just off stage, we hear a door open accompanied by the voice of a greasy salesman type, chewing gum.

The young woman stares off screen toward the voices, curious.

GREASY SALESMAN (O.S.)
‘ullo, ‘ullo.
(beat)
Are you Martin and Ellie
Stevens of 14 Wombat Row?

YOUNG MAN (O.S.)
(reluctantly)
Y--yes... Can I help you?

The greasy salesman bursts out onto the stage, completely uninvited. His har is slicked back, he has thick mutton chops and dark ray-ban glasses.

Think Michael Palin.

He’s taking in the look of the house, examining the imaginary decor.

GREASY SALESMAN
This place is really beautiful...
You have a lovely home.

YOUNG WOMAN
(confused)
Thank you...

GREASY SALESMAN
It’s a shame, really.

YOUNG MAN
A shame? What is this about?

GREASY SALESMAN
Well, it’s a simple matter of
repossession of allocated wealth.
(shouting)
Marco!
(beat, to the young couple)
My associate Marco, whom I believe
you’re familiar with, can fill you in
with all the nasty little details, but
don’t worry about fightin’,
you ain’t got a leg to stand on...

From the imaginary door comes MARCO, slowly and confidently. As he strolls to the center of the living room, he hands his greasy assistant a clipboard with papers and contracts on it.

YOUNG MAN
I know you...

MARCO
Indeed you do.

YOUNG WOMAN
You’re the guy who sold us our car.

MARCO
I was, and now, because of that,
I’m here to serve you an eviction notice.

YOUNG WOMAN
An eviction notice?

GREASY SALESMAN
Like I said, ma’am, there ain’t
no use disputin’ it...
(flipping through the
papers on the clipboard)
It’s all here in black and white.

MARCO
It was all written out clearly at the
time of signing. If you were to default
on your car payment for a period of
any longer than seven business days,
then you would be in forfeit of your house.

The greasy salesman sidles up next to the young man...

YOUNG MAN
We would never...

The greasy salesman flips to the last page on the clipboard, presenting it to the Young Man.

GREASY SALESMAN
That your signature?

YOUNG MAN
Yes, but...

MARCO
But? How did you think we could offer
someone with your kind of credit a loan
for a car like that without collateral
like this house?

YOUNG WOMAN
If we’d’ve known you were going to
take our car for a late payment we called
and told you was going to be late,
we’d’ve bought our car elsewhere.

MARCO
But you didn’t. You bought your automobile from me.
And you signed my contract. And I’m not
taking your car, I’m taking your
house, as is my legal right.

YOUNG MAN
But that’s not fair.

GREASY SALESMAN
Fair?
(beat)
You signed the contract, right?

YOUNG MAN
Well, yes, but...

GREASY SALESMAN
And you needed a car, and didn’t
have the credit to. And Marco here,
he was kind enough to give you credit...

YOUNG MAN
But, he...

GREASY SALESMAN
He didn’t do nothing out of the ordinary,
you just didn’t pay much attention
to the contract.

MARCO
And now, you have two days to leave this house.

GREASY SALESMAN
It’s the fine print...
(beat)
It’ll get you every time...

MARCO
I said I’d give you a car with no credit.
You should have asked me how I planned to do that.

YOUNG WOMAN
(who’s now crying)
But where will we go?

MARCO
Where will you go? That’s not my
concern. But I do know how you’ll get there.
(beat)
In your car. Now that we’ve taken possession
of the house, you own the car, lock, stock and barrel...

GREASY SALESMAN
So, at least you’ll be sleepin’ with a roof over your ‘ead.

The Young Woman sobs and the Young Man moves to the couch to comfort her.

YOUNG MAN
We’ll figure something...

MARCO
With that, we shall bid you adieu. We’ll
return two days hence to make
sure you’ve vacated the property.

GREASY SALESMAN
Have a good evenin’.

Marco and the Greasy salesman head off stage.

Leaving the young couple crying on the couch with nothing but the spotlight illuminating them.
The light fades on them.

END SCENE.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Unfaithful (An unfinished work)

I thought this would be an interesting thing to show all both of you who read this. This is the beginnings of a novel that came to me suddenly. It's plotted out completely, but I haven't the time to work on beyond this point. In truth, I feel bad working on this when I have screenplays to work on and my first novel still needs to be transcribed and revised as well.

Obviously, as you read this, you should be able to pick out the preposterous amount of influence Graham Greene has had on me

I thought I'd offer this to see if anybody is interested in seeing me finish it. I'll keep a quick recap of the rest of the hook at the bottom of the story.

I’m writing this in retrospect, knowing full well that if I don’t write down my thoughts of what has happened I’ll certainly go mad. This is mainly a tale of jealousy and, in hindsight, how it brought me to the brink of insanity, that stony precipice I currently teeter on. It’s funny that they say hindsight is always 20/20, because as I reflect back on what happened, things seem hazy, almost translucent. I know what has happened, but the why is shrouded in that thick fog of hindsight and one wonders where to begin.

To be sure, I said this tale would be one of jealousy, but it didn’t begin that way. Do things ever begin the way they end, I wonder? It seems to me that jealousy and hatred must be planted in a firm soil bed of love and devotion for it to flower and blossom.

And it’s fitting then, I suppose, that we begin in a bed of love. Our bed. Mine and Sarah’s. We’d bought it on our return from our honeymoon, an old oak four poster that creaked so hideously when we made love that afterwards, Sarah would giggle, wondering aloud what the Joneses in the neighboring flat thought of the sound.

“Who cares what they think?” I told her, “To hell with them.”

And I’d meant it.

“I don’t care what they think, per se, but wouldn’t it be terribly embarrassing if they could hear us?”

I laughed, running my fingers softly along the curves of her hips, still glistening in the sweat of our afternoon lovemaking.

“That doesn’t matter.”

She sighed and looked into me, through me, down to the souls as if my eyes were windows looking out over it like a scenic vista. “I love you,” she told me.

And I believed it.

“I love you, too,” I told her, believing that as well.

I close my eyes and I can still feel her running her delicate fingers across my face, smiling at me like an angel, my angel.

She kissed my forehead and leaped spryly from the bed, quickly wrapping her perfect frame in her terry robe. “Do you still have time for tea?”

Pulling my watch from the nightstand and realizing the time, I knew that I didn’t and said so, “I really have to get back to the office, Angel Heart.”

“So soon?”

“It pains me, too, but the Ministry would never forgive me.”

“Can’t it wait ten minutes?” She pouted, tying the front of her gown together, obscuring her pert breasts fully from my view.

“My darling, if it were up to me, this damn war would be over and my division would never need to do…exactly whatever it is we do, again.”

She walked from the bed to her dressing table, combing her beautiful auburn hair back into it’s natural wavy state. “It would be a lot easier to cope, I imagine, iif you could tell me something, anything about what you do.”

“You know I can’t… It’s…”

“For my protection? Yes, I know. How could I forget. You’ve told me hundreds of times.”

To hell with secrecy. Going back into your thoughts like this, you imagine how you’d react in days gone by, knowing that anything you knew, any secret at all that could tell, wouldn’t have meant anything to the war. “I’ll tell you everything you want to hear about. Names, dates, places, anything. Just stay with me,” I could see myself telling her.

Though I didn’t.

I always felt sheepish, being so tight lipped about my work in intelligence. For the first thing, I never felt like anything I could tell her was any big secret and for the second, it made me feel as though she felt somehow unloved. Like an orphan, absent of affection of any kind.

I put myself back together, retying my tie and straightening my jacket before I left for work.

I left a tender kiss on her cheek on my way out.

That burning in the pit of my chest (the one I was confident was love) was the only thing I could remember feeling that day on my walk back to the office.

My work at the foreign office was entirely inconsequential. At the time, I was a called a spy jokingly, but in reality I was merely a glorified filing clerk. True the information I was cataloging was of great national importance, but I didn’t get to do much but alphabetize it by region and then forward it to the corresponding section. Africa, Asia, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and so on, ad infitum. It was neither glamorous nor risky but someone had to do it. And I’d had to go through a screening process so stringent that I felt nearly irreplaceable.

And that's all I'd written. Clearly, once he gets to the office, he gets reassigned to a much more secretive position in the European theatre, recruiting double agents to the British cause. As his story of intrigue unfolds, he communicates with his wife, Sarah, daily by letters. Soon, her letters begin to come less often and soon not at all. Convinced of her infidelity, he abandons his mission and heads back to London to find her and make her explain, knowing full well that he has enemy spies hot on his heels.