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Author Topic: Two Kinds of People  (Read 3026 times)

Joel

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Two Kinds of People
« on: May 06, 2005, 10:49:04 pm »

Six years in college I paid for by working in construction.  Degrees in engineering and information technology, certifications out the yingyang, four years’ professional experience.

And now I’m a yard guy.  If my friends could see me now.

If my friends could see me now, they’d wonder why I like it so much.  I wonder the same thing, sometimes.

I’d gotten kind of flabby, sitting around all day and night tapping on keyboards or reading books.  Weekly pistol training was about my only recreation, and while that will help you work up a sweat it’s not the same as day-in-day-out work.  But the muscles are still there, just needed to be taken out and dusted off a bit. And the…

“AUGH!  Shit!”

Goddammit, I was shoving this compressor to one side of the shed rack, and my hand!  Ow my hand my hand the goddam thing is squashing my hand against something so sharp…Gotta pull it back, but the fucking base is caught on a plank can’t pull it tilt it back then pull jeezus it hurts.

I finally get my left hand free, leaving a thin trail of blood as I extract it from the rack.  Aw, Christ, lookit this.  Gotta stop the bleeding.  Need something to use for a bandage.  Frank’s probably got a first-aid kit – no, can’t go to him, he’s the employer.  He’s gotta cover his ass and take me to a hospital and I can’t go to a hospital because I’m not George Sedlewitz or anybody else I want people to meet.

Shop rag, yeah.  Wrap it around and presssssahgodithurts.  Stop the bleeding.  Can’t bleed all over the shed, he’ll see it.  Gotta get this cleaned up.  Soaking through the shop rag, where’s another clean one?  Wad it up against the…oh, man.  Big-ass slash across the back of my hand, if that didn’t open a vein I’ll live to be hung.

“George?  Where you at?”  Dammit!  Gotta hide it but hide it how?  There’s noplace to go.

Frank sticks his head into the shack.  “George?  You in here?”

“Yeah,” I say in a resigned voice.  “Back here.”

“C’mon out a minute, would ya?  I need ta…what the hell you do to your hand?”

“Nothing.”  Hold the hand in a natural position and lie your ass off.  “It’s okay.”

He looks around.  “That why yer bleedin’ all over the place, ‘cause yer okay?  What the hell you do?”

“I just cut my hand a little, that’s all.  It’s nothing, really.”

He grabs my hand.  “Lemme see that…Jeezus, yer gonna need stitches in that.  C’mon in the office, we’ll wrap it up and take you to the doc.”

I yank my hand back.  “No, really!  I’m fine.  Just need to wrap it up a little.”

And then his face gets real serious.  “Y’don’t know much, do ya?  Er ya think I don’.  Dumbass, don’ worry ‘bout it.  Ain’t gonna take ya to a hospital or nothin’.”

Suspicion.  The first I’ve felt since I’ve been here.  “Huh?”

“Not too bright, are ya?  Carry the fanciest pistol I ever saw, like yer afraid somebody’s gonna see ya with it.  Gimme a name ain’t nothin’ like what you were born with.  Jump at yer own shadow.  Huh.  Like I’m gonna take ya to a hospital.  Shit.  What turnip truck you think I fell off?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Never mind.  Gonna take you to the doc.  Don’ worry ‘bout nothin’.”

Pain and confusion conspire to keep me quiet while he bundles me into his pickup truck and drives just a few blocks – which is enough to get us to the opposite side of Drummond – and stops in front of a small, peeling house.  Gets out, knocks on the door, says something inaudible to the man there.  Comes back to the truck, drags me out and into the house.

I don’t have any idea who I’m expecting to find inside the house, but this guy isn’t it.  He’s young, maybe in his mid thirties.  Lean and clean-shaven.  Goes straight to his work.
“Good afternoon,” he says.  “I’m the doctor.  Come into the examining room, and we’ll have a look at your hand.”

He probes, prods, causes me pain.  I grit my teeth and concentrate on staying silent.  “Lucky,” he says.  “Considerable contusion, but no broken bones.  We only have to deal with the laceration.  Nothing to worry about.”  His voice is crisp, precise.  Midwestern, maybe a hint of Boston.

He fills a syringe from a small bottle, sticks it into the back of my hand.  Suddenly my hand goes numb, like it isn’t even there any more.  He swabs the gash clean with alcohol, threads a curved needle and starts to do things that I know would hurt a lot, if I could feel it.

“George Sedlewitz,” he says.  At my outraged glance, he says soothingly, “No, Frank didn’t tell me your name.  It’s a very small town.  Very.”  This last word is spoken with regret, or maybe anger.

“You’re dark enough, black hair,” he says.  “But if that isn’t an Irish face, I’ve never seen one.  If you’re a Jew, I’m a Tutsi.”  He smiles into my eyes.  “Forgive me.  People have become something of a hobby to me, just lately.”

“Shall I explain why I know all this, and why it doesn’t mean a damned thing?”  All the time he’s talking, he ties off the thread, snips the end, begins to bandage my hand.  “You’re wondering why, since it’s so clear that you’re not who you say you are, and since it’s so very clear that you don’t want anyone to know who you are, nobody is exactly falling over themselves to call the police on you.  Isn’t that true?”

Well, what the hell are you supposed to say to something like that?  I say nothing.

“You’ve been working for Frank for a few months now, yes?  And when you get yourself hurt, he brings you here, rather than to a hospital.  Why would you say that is?”

I’ve been wondering the same thing.  But I still don’t say anything.

“It’s because,” he says, “you wear your origins like a big sign around your neck.  It is, as I’ve said, a very small town.  Nobody would ever mistake you for a native.”

He tapes off the bandage, and fills another syringe.  “Pull up your sleeve.”

“What’s that?” I ask.

“Tetanus booster.” I pull up my sleeve, and he sticks me with the needle.

“Do you know how many people live in Montana?” he asks.  

I shake my head.

“Less than a million.  There are twenty times that many people in New York state, and you could put a couple of New Yorks in Montana and shake it like a maraca.  There’s a reason not many people live here.  Aside from the scenery, it’s not actually a very nice place to live.

“There are only two kinds of people here, pilgrim.  Those who were born here, and either like it enough or don’t care enough to leave when they’re grown.  And those who come here because the rest of the world doesn’t quite suit them.  Or because they don’t quite suit the rest of the world.

“Those of us in that last class tend not to ask a lot of questions about one another.  Live in peace, do no harm, and nobody will give a damn where you’re from or what happened to drive you here.  You can pull down your sleeve.”
 
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RagnarDanneskjold

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Two Kinds of People
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2005, 11:44:19 pm »

Quote
“There are only two kinds of people here, pilgrim.  Those who were born here, and either like it enough or don’t care enough to leave when they’re grown.  And those who come here because the rest of the world doesn’t quite suit them.  Or because they don’t quite suit the rest of the world.

“Those of us in that last class tend not to ask a lot of questions about one another.  Live in peace, do no harm, and nobody will give a damn where you’re from or what happened to drive you here.  You can pull down your sleeve.”
Yeah, go ahead, rub it in. I just can't convince the family that's where we need to be (yet).
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We can hang another one

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penguinsscareme

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Two Kinds of People
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2005, 06:50:35 am »

Quote
“I’m the doctor.
Uh...does the doctor have a name?  To me, that just sounds like, Hi.  I'm the doctor in this story.  I don't have a name, I'm just a character.  Step into my office, won't you?  I've got a fresh batch of expository dialogue all made up.  It was just going to be a monologue, but now that you're here, we might as well make it a dialogue.
But you don't provide much fodder for criticism.
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O Lord,
Thine Ocean is so great,
And my boat is so small.

Sportos, motorheads, dweebies, wastoids...they think he's a righteous dude.

The utter waste of our $2,000,000,000 a day military-industrial machine was never demonstrated more vividly than on 9/11.

You do what works.

Bill St. Clair

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Two Kinds of People
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2005, 07:11:57 am »

I really liked this chapter. America used to be the kind of place you're describing. A place where people who didn't get along in the non-free world could go and, as long as they lived in peace and did no harm, not be questioned about their past. What happened?
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Docliberty

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Two Kinds of People
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2005, 07:46:47 am »

Quote
Uh...does the doctor have a name? To me, that just sounds like, Hi. I'm the doctor in this story. I don't have a name, I'm just a character. Step into my office, won't you? I've got a fresh batch of expository dialogue all made up. It was just going to be a monologue, but now that you're here, we might as well make it a dialogue.

The feeling that I got from this was that the "doctor" was in the same situation as "George" and didn't really want to state his name yet.  In a similar situation, I would probably introduce myself that way.  Anyway, that was my impression, but I can't speak for John as to his intentions.
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Doc

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"I do not fear my government.  I fear what my government will cause me to become."   Docliberty

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." H. L. Mencken

Joel

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Two Kinds of People
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2005, 09:33:33 am »

Quote
Quote
“I’m the doctor.
Uh...does the doctor have a name?  To me, that just sounds like, Hi.  I'm the doctor in this story.  I don't have a name, I'm just a character.  Step into my office, won't you?  I've got a fresh batch of expository dialogue all made up.  It was just going to be a monologue, but now that you're here, we might as well make it a dialogue.
 
Yes, well, I do worry about that.  I've reasons for dumping a ready-made anonymous doctor into the mix, which I hope will become more clear later.  But I do agree that when a new character steps on stage and starts monologuing, there's reason to suspect that the writer is being lazy.
Quote
The feeling that I got from this was that the "doctor" was in the same situation as "George" and didn't really want to state his name yet
The chapter (and the monologue) was substantially longer, but much that was said should have been implicit in the situation, and too obvious to state.  So I cut it.
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penguinsscareme

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Two Kinds of People
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2005, 12:48:43 pm »

Quote
The chapter (and the monologue) was substantially longer, but much that was said should have been implicit in the situation, and too obvious to state. So I cut it.
Ah, now that's the discipline, isn't it?  I appreciate your comments and Claire's about my writing ability, but the fact is, I couldn't write my way out of a wet paper bag.  I can express a thought in writing, and I can turn a snappy phrase or two, but it's agony for me to try and write narration and dialogue.  How to say enough to put the reader into the story, but without being cumbersome?  When I try to write dialogue and narration, it usually comes out sounding beautiful, but with too little information to actually give the reader a detailed picture of what's happening.  Nicely atmospheric, but too ungrounded.  So then I go back and try to flesh out the whos, whats, wheres, whens and hows, but that always ends up dragging it down too far and polluting all that nice atmosphere.
I think your style tends to be pretty spare, concise.  There's not a great deal of lyricism, but the plot and the interaction of the characters is clear and easy to follow.  Almost like journalism.
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O Lord,
Thine Ocean is so great,
And my boat is so small.

Sportos, motorheads, dweebies, wastoids...they think he's a righteous dude.

The utter waste of our $2,000,000,000 a day military-industrial machine was never demonstrated more vividly than on 9/11.

You do what works.

penguinsscareme

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Two Kinds of People
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2005, 02:18:13 pm »

Here, I posted this.  This is what I mean.  The writing is just tortured.  I mean, it's a little cliche and melodramatic anyway, but a good writer could have pulled it off.
http://www.thementalmilitia.org/clairefile...=ST&f=26&t=4504
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O Lord,
Thine Ocean is so great,
And my boat is so small.

Sportos, motorheads, dweebies, wastoids...they think he's a righteous dude.

The utter waste of our $2,000,000,000 a day military-industrial machine was never demonstrated more vividly than on 9/11.

You do what works.

debeez

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Two Kinds of People
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2005, 08:07:36 pm »

Hmmm...

Okay, disclaimer first.  My opinion is worth 4 cents if you figure in inflation...so take it how you will.

While I like the idea of him getting into a situation like this (hurt, needs doctor) It doesn't feel right.  Like there is too much talking all at once, too much explanation.  Yeah, it may be glaringly obvious to his boss and others that he is not who he appears to be, but let it out slower.  It's too much, too soon.  

C'mon John...tease me, darlin'!!   ;)   I want to be fed tantalizing little tidbits.  Don't over explain, and don't show your cards too soon.  But absolutely, absolutely leave in the part of him getting hurt, just let the rest trickle out over time.  It will be so much more exciting that way! :rolleyes:  
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debeez

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« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2005, 08:09:40 pm »

Oh, and one more thing.  Give that poor doc a name, even a 'fake' name.  Saying, "I'm the doctor", just doesn't sound natural.  And you obviously want the dialogue to sound natural.
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Christine
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Roy J. Tellason

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Two Kinds of People
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2005, 09:52:27 pm »

Quote
I really liked this chapter. America used to be the kind of place you're describing. A place where people who didn't get along in the non-free world could go and, as long as they lived in peace and did no harm, not be questioned about their past. What happened?
What happened?  I've been trying to figure that out for quite some time now...

Some folks differ a bit on the details,  but I think the general idea is out there.  How to fix it is,  of course,  a whole 'nother issue entirely.
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penguinsscareme

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Two Kinds of People
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2005, 10:43:58 pm »

Quote
C'mon John...tease me, darlin'!!
Yeah, we like a man with a slow hand! :lol:  
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O Lord,
Thine Ocean is so great,
And my boat is so small.

Sportos, motorheads, dweebies, wastoids...they think he's a righteous dude.

The utter waste of our $2,000,000,000 a day military-industrial machine was never demonstrated more vividly than on 9/11.

You do what works.

Joel

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Two Kinds of People
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2005, 10:52:38 pm »

Quote
Quote
C'mon John...tease me, darlin'!!
Yeah, we like a man with a slow hand! :lol:
er...y'know...It was just fine when debeez said that...

But then you joined in just now... :unsure:

Now I'm just frightened.
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penguinsscareme

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« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2005, 11:10:22 pm »

I didn't know you were so fragile...oh, wait.  I guess I did.  My faux pas.
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O Lord,
Thine Ocean is so great,
And my boat is so small.

Sportos, motorheads, dweebies, wastoids...they think he's a righteous dude.

The utter waste of our $2,000,000,000 a day military-industrial machine was never demonstrated more vividly than on 9/11.

You do what works.

debeez

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Two Kinds of People
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2005, 12:43:52 pm »

Quote
But then you joined in just now... 

Now I'm just frightened.

 :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:

(wipes tears from eyes)  My, my, what have I started?  Ooh...just saw a new chapter...(scampers off to read other thread).
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