November 1, 2007

NaNoWriMo 2007, Day 1

Posted in Books, National Novel Writing Month, Writing at 11:05 pm by Calico Jack

Welcome to the first day of the National Novel Writing Month 2007! Because I didn’t think that writing 50,000 words in a month was pressure enough, I’ll be putting my (hopefully) daily output on this blog for the whole world to read and critique. Feel free to offer criticisms and suggestions, but remember that my focus the next thirty days is on output — quantity over quality. Also, please keep in mind that this is a only rough draft; there has been virtually no editing or polishing done before it gets posted here. In fact, it’s as close to a stream-of-consciousness work as I’ll ever write. The only help I’m getting is from a thesaurus and a baby name book…two essentials for this kind of off-the-cuff prose. Let me offer the usual disclaimer here, as well:

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and events depicted are imaginary, and any coincidence to persons living or dead is purely unintentional.

Having said that, I hope you enjoy reading! This should be quite an entertaining (and occasionally frustrating) experience, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Prologue:

Los Angeles Times
August 23, 2005

“Santa Monica Woman Killed in Car Crash”

A 24-year-old Santa Monica resident was killed last night in what a witness described as “the most horrible accident I’ve ever seen.” John Periano was walking his dog on the corner of Whitfield Ave. and Chautauqua Blvd. around 8 p.m. when he saw a silver BMW speeding northbound on Chautauqua. The driver neglected to observe the stop sign and smashed through the guardrail ahead before colliding with a tree at the edge of Will Rogers State Historic Park. Periano states that the impact must have immediately killed her: “The front end of her car was completely shorn off; as soon as I reached her I knew there was nothing anybody could do. The inside of the car was just so disturbing…” Police have identified the victim as Elizabeth Hutchinson, a freelance media consultant from Seattle who moved to Santa Monica a year and a half ago. Friends say she was supposed to show up for a party in Marina Del Rey that evening, but they have no idea why she would instead be traveling towards Rivas Canyon Park. “She was one of the most dependable people I know,” says roommate Sarah Peltric. “She wasn’t a heavy drinker or anything and hated people who were bad drivers.” The Santa Monica Coroner’s Office will be performing an autopsy to ascertain whether or not alcohol or illegal substances played a part in the accident.

Los Angeles Times
August 26, 2005

“Canyon Crash Ruled an Accident”

            The Santa Monica Coroner’s Office has determined that no illegal substances contributed to the death of Elizabeth Hutchinson, a Santa Monica media consultant who drove her car off the side of Chautauqua Road on August 22. “Our examinations show no evidence of alcohol or drugs in her system,” stated head examiner Dr. Laurence Finnigan. Police have no knowledge as to why Hutchinson was speeding along the canyon road. A memorial service will be held for her at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Santa Monica on September 2.

———————————————————————————————————————

You know it’s going to be a long day when you wake up before the alarm goes off, almost as if your body can sense that those few extra minutes of blissful rest aren’t really all that important compared to what’s facing you the next eighteen hours or so. I’m accustomed to waging a daily battle with the alarm clock over who’s going to be the king of the bedroom for that morning; sometimes I will even add weapons like pillows and sleep buttons to the titanic struggle over an embarrassingly small amount of extra sleep. That morning, however, my body betrayed me, and I was awake—if not exactly coherent—well before my normal seven o’clock alarm. It was the middle of April and the sun wouldn’t be rising for at least another hour, but there was really no point in trying to grab some shuteye. If that happened, I knew I wouldn’t be waking up to anything save an apartment fire or the smell of my next-door neighbor cooking her usual breakfast of bacon and oatmeal. How Chloe manages to stay appealingly svelte while routinely ingesting greasy strips of fat (with a little meat on the sides) I’ll never know. She claims that it is due to her morning workouts and high-pressure job, but I have good information from our landlady that Chloe has a secret twin who does all of the eating for her. Either way it’s ridiculously frustrating, as I can feel inches being added to my girth after merely looking at an apple. A strict regimen of occasional workouts has kept me in reasonably decent shape, but I know that in a couple of years I’ll be giving into the call of the man-belly and start to lose whatever definition I have left.

From my cozy bed I couldn’t smell anything wafting into the bedroom, which meant Chloe was probably still in the middle of one of her exercise routines. Now was as good of a time as any to hop in the shower and shock myself into full alertness, hoping that the water heater hadn’t broken down again in the middle of the night. The previous week had been an absolute nightmare after something—not entirely sure what; I’m not mechanically inclined at all—inside broke, snapped, or otherwise destroyed whatever it is that gives me hot water when I turn on the showerhead. I had called a repairman, but I wasn’t at all satisfied that he had fixed the problem; he barely seemed to know more about it than I did. For the past several days I’d been crossing my fingers every time I turned on the water, hoping that I wouldn’t be blasted by water pumped directly from the Arctic Ocean.

Alas, this was the day that my luck ran out. Even steeling myself for the possibility of frigid water didn’t prepare me at all for the liquid frostbite that sprayed all over my formerly sleepy and currently hypothermic body. Today was going to be a short shower, then. Shampoo on the hair, soap on the body, water to rinse everything off, and get out. Quickly shave, spend a bit more time than that messing around with my hair, pull on a dark pair of jeans and a T-shirt, and watch the morning BBC news broadcast until I could smell the bacon.

The news was depressingly unoriginal: suicide bombings in Jerusalem, clashes between U.S. forces and insurgents in the Shiite area of Baghdad, flooding in the Balkans, and a fluff piece on the rise of citizen-journalist blogging in countries like Egypt and Argentina. I’m a rather voracious political junkie and news whore, but that morning there seemed to be very little on the television to hold my interest. I was flipping through the channels, trying to see if USA was playing a rerun of JAG, when I finally got what I was waiting for—the smell of bacon seeping through my kitchen’s walls and into the living room.

            It’s no secret among my friends that I am unfortunately afflicted by a rather large crush on the girl in Apartment 217B. Chloe and I have been good friends for about a year and a half, ever since she moved here after graduating from the University of San Diego with a master’s degree in communications. I think she had dreams of becoming a hotshot reporter and TV anchorwoman for one of L.A.’s major channels, but this city is absolutely unforgiving to most who harbor such goals. When she arrived, I had just left my previous job under rather stressful circumstances, and I was spending a week watching all of the sci-fi DVDs in my collection as a way to unwind. But when a 23-year-old blonde with a dazzling smile knocks on your door and asks for help moving her stuff up from downstairs…well, Gattaca and Dark City suddenly start to look much less appealing. On my way back up the staircase while precariously gripping an oversized recliner, I tripped over myself and ended up dropping the recliner over the edge of the railing. The chair was fine, I was not (twisted ankle and wounded pride), and Chloe thought the whole thing was absolutely hilarious. I found out that she has a wicked sense of humor when the next day she knocked on my door again and said she decided not to keep the recliner after all; would I kindly take it downstairs for her? I pointed to the ice pack strapped around my ankle; she smiled coquettishly and suggested that I hop.

   I’d like to say that it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and future relationship, but only the first half of that would be correct. We became fast friends and ended up spending a lot of time exploring the city together, but Chloe never reciprocated my sometimes unsubtle hints to go on an “official” date. She never discouraged me from asking, and we spent a lot of time flirting with each other, but I eventually realized she just didn’t want to be in a serious relationship. I figured as long as it wasn’t the right time instead of it not being the right person, I was willing to wait—although the flirting never stopped. You can’t really change who you are, after all. Last year I had helped her get a job as a producer for the noon, 2 and 4 p.m. news broadcasts on Channel 9; it wasn’t quite the same as being in front of the camera, yet Chloe really appreciated the job nonetheless. Unfortunately, it also meant that our schedules didn’t overlap much at all anymore; she’s normally at KCAL from mid-morning until well into early evening, and my job requires me to work a different combination of hours almost every day. I was rather frustrated at not being able to spend more time with her, but a couple of mornings a week we eat breakfast together—hence my waiting for the smell of bacon, which means that I can then head over next door and join her. You might wonder if I’m merely a 26-year-old human version of Pavlov’s dogs, but in response to that I point out that you haven’t met Chloe. She’s insufferably cute, whip-smart, and exemplifies a sparkling personality. Am I gushing? Probably. But it’s my story, and I’m the one with the feelings so noticeable my friends gave me the Blue Crush DVD, Jon Bon Jovi’s CD Crush, and a Sandra Brown novel of the same title for my birthday. Thanks, guys.

Next chapter ->

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