Grenade

I’ve had this idea in my head for a while, but I didn’t know where I’d actually go with it. I was thinking of writing up some kind of army story, but I don’t know enough about the military to write something that hasn’t already been done. Instead, I decided to work on my long, David Foster Wallace-like sentences. I noticed in many of my stories that I tend to write the same kinds of sentences over and over again. I never push the boundaries. I want to change that. Does this one-sentence story work? Would you rather it be broken up into many sentences? Do you want to try and write a sentence with at least 100 words?

Grenade

I was only following orders, said the young private, who stood before the emotionless judge, while the jury, who couldn’t remove the images of the small, burned bodies from their minds, thought it was ironic that the jury was going to determine his fate; he knew it was sealed when he signed up to go fight; he thought, as he stood, unaware his legs were trembling, he was born to fight, which meant long before he decided to pull the pin on his grenade, before he heard the screams of the women and children, before the silence set in, his fate was already set in stone, which also meant that there was a God, and if there was a God, he could be forgiven; however, he wasn’t looking for God’s forgiveness; he wanted the children he murdered to forgive him, knowing damn well he wouldn’t get one; he decided when he was given his guilty verdict he would not apologize for his actions.

Connecting the Past and the Present

Turns out that the recent stuff I’ve been posting is a part of a short story I might be writing for grad school applications. I’m still up in the air between two very different ideas. The story I’m writing now is very similar to David Foster Wallace’s style of interconnecting story lines. The story I’m writing has to be 25 pages and right now, I’m at around 18. I stupidly didn’t write an outline, but I have a general idea of how I want the story to be read. I’m playing with dialogue, the past and present, multiple story lines, and internal conflict. It’s very ambitious from my point of view and I have a feeling I might be doing too much with such a limited amount of space, so I have to try to find the balance between passages and somehow let what isn’t being spoken tell the story (like in hint fiction). This small passage goes back and forth between one of the main character’s past and present. Let me know what you guys think. This is an unedited, work in progress, so go easy.

 

“Covering fire!” can be heard off in the distance, so Franklin instinctually finds the source. Bullets from overhead rooftops rain down on him, forcing him to slalom between cement pillars.

“Franklin! Rooftop! Ten O’Clock!”

Franklin thought that was where he was supposed to fire, but the Afghani fighter had an RPG zeroed in on his position.

“Through the window!”

The RPG fires and Franklin sees the rocket coming straight for him. It’s half way across the plaza and Franklin turns around, jumps through the closed window behind him, and runs as fast as he can to the back wall, taking cover behind a counter. He hears the explosion, but it didn’t hit the building. RPG’s are known for their inaccuracy. They’re cheaply made and can do significant damage if the rocket stays on target.

The silence that comes from shock after possibly killing a large group of people fades and screams from the wounded are faint, but distinct.

“Medic!” screams someone.

“Momma!” yells another.

Franklin tries to run over but the enemy knows his position. In waves, bullets rain into the building. He notices the sounds of gunfire, similar to his, coming from across the street. There are definitely casualties, but Franklin knows he has to get to them. The military didn’t even have to tell him to never leave a soldier behind; it’s been implanted in his mind starting at a very young age. Franklin remembers these moments as either grenades or mortar rounds explode in the street. The familiar gunfire is becoming less frequent, but the yells for help are starting to pick up.

 

When Franklin was little, he and his buddies would have rock wars with the older kids from the neighborhood. It was incredibly unfair, as well as dangerous. They started in the park and gravitated to Franklin’s backyard, which was also next to the park. His parents were never home, so they didn’t get to see the carnage take place; only the after effects. Anyways, the older kids, who were much stronger, would find baseball-sized rocks and use those instead of the conventional (and more abundant) pebbles found on the playground. The older and Franklin came to a truce in an earlier battle saying that if they’re going to throw rocks that could potentially kill them, they need some kind of cover. The slides were perfect, even though they left the legs exposed.

The little pebbles were good for laying covering fire. Franklin watched the military channel with his father on a daily basis, so he always took command.

“Andy! Tommy! Get behind the playground and start throwing the rocks as high as you can at ‘em.”

“Why?”

“’Cause I asked you to.”

“…”

“No, they need to be distracted. Jay, get the secret stash ready. When they’re not looking, aim for in between the eyes.”

 

Franklin wakes up from an apparent explosion, covered in dust and debris, confused and unable to hear anything except an unremitting ringing in his ears. He pats his extremities, making sure they’re all in place, and they are, so he runs through the hole the RPG created, covered by the cloud of dust, and reaches the site of the first explosion.

Limbs are scattered across the ground. Bodies lay in pools of blood. There are soldiers who are still breathing, but too far into shock to actually respond to or acknowledge Franklin’s presence. This was Franklin’s first taste of war. The sulfur from the blast lingers on his tongue with each breath he takes when he ran through the smoke providing cover. He reaches the bends down to put pressure on a leg wound of a fallen soldier, but he doesn’t recognize the severity of it, and blood squirts in his face. He throws up almost immediately, but regains his composure and applies a tourniquet to the mangled leg.

 

“Now!” yells Franklin.

Wave after wave of tiny pebbles cloud the sky and rain down on their enemy. Some are distracted and inevitably get hit in the face, causing screams from shock, rather than pain, due to the fact that the pebbles were the size of marbles. Franklin sneaks around with a baseball-sized chunk of concrete he found earlier in the street, and closes in on his target: unknown to Franklin, but actively making his presence known to them by kicking this shit out of anyone in his path. The target sees Franklin standing alone, and charges.

Writing Project

Usually over the Summer, I go out of my way to read as many books as possible. That’s not going to change this summer, but I am going to make more of an effort to improve my writing, by trying to write every day. Posts won’t always be stories, but there will be bits and pieces of dialogue that I would love to get feedback on. Today, I’m going to post an example of what I mean.

 

“You know, my mother makes the best spaghetti anyone’ll ever eat. Always cooked perfectly, you know? Like, the sauce: always fresh, everything, too. The garlic, tomatoes crushed by hand, basil from the garden, you know? You know what the secret to a good sauce is?” asks Jay.

“…”

“Good olive oil.”

“How could you possibly think about food at a time like this? It’s a miracle I haven’t thrown up yet,” says Tommy.

“If you use shit oil, you get shit results. Same thing goes with wine. You cook with only what you drink.”

“That’s great, Jay. Fan-fuckin’-tastic, Jay. Why are you telling us this?” asks Tommy.

“When I get nervous, I think of something I love, you know?”

“We’re surrounded by shit. Literally, shit,” says Andy, butting in. “Does shit remind you of your mother’s cooking or something?”

“Fuck off.”

Smells of raw sewage penetrate their nostrils as they cautiously advance through the darkness, guided only by their rifle-mounted flashlights.

“Check your corners,” whispers Franklin, the point man.

“No shit, Franky,” mumbles Jay, sarcastically.

“Fuck up, Jay,” says Tommy, who’s following behind Andy.

“You dipshits are gonna get us killed!” yells Andy, momentarily forgetting about the importance of silence.

“Enough,” says Franklin, obviously pissed. “Keep moving.”

The team presses forward, in silence, eager to find their target. It’s important they don’t fuck up because they won’t get another chance.

“You see how pissed Franky got, Andy?”

“Enough, Jay,” whispers Andy. “Now’s not the time.”

“Why not?”

“You were quiet all day back at base. Why now, must you fuck around?”

Jay likes to get on people’s nerves, just to see how they’ll react. Always testing his boundaries, looking for the one chink in the armor. Everyone knows this, but Jay’s had a lot of practice. They all expect Jay to say something stupid, but he always manages to catch you off guard with something ridiculous, and he makes sure you’re really pissed off before he stops, like, to the point where you’re ready to smash his face in with the butt of your rifle. Luckily for him, he knows when to quit.

“Shut up; all of you,” whispers Franklin while holding up his hand to stop movement. “We’re here. Andy, plant the charges; Tommy, cover me.”

 

Are you curious to find out what happens next?

Which character are you most intrigued about?

Does Jay seem over the top?

What works and what doesn’t?

What would you do differently, if anything?

One More Night

Three years ago today, Bin Laden was killed by Seal Team Six during a raid on his compound. Those who took part in the mission, and those who serve in all branches of the military should be role models for all of us if they don’t already. They have the guts to sacrifice everything for the greater good of the world. I feel we all have it in us, but only a select few are capable of actually acting upon it. That’s why I chose to not use names in the story. We’re all capable of making a difference, so I didn’t want names to hold us back from what we’re able to do.

Forgive the cliches. I did this quickly and I’m trying to focus more on the dialogue; especially from the girl’s perspective.

 

One More Night

“I don’t have a choice, man. I gotta go; they need me–now.”

“Well, why can’t you just spend one more night with me?”

“I’ve already spent “one more night” with you three times! I can’t keep putting it off; you know that.”

“…”

As she sat in silence, trying with all her might not to cry and be brave, her boyfriend was packing his bag, getting ready to face a new step in his chaotic life.

“Come on, don’t look like that, babe,” he said annoyed. “You’re gonna make me start worrying and shit and you know how easy it is for me to second guess myself.”

From the time he was little, he had always put others before himself. When kids were being bullied in elementary school, he stuck up for them and played with them instead of the more popular kids. In high school, he was a certified lifeguard at the local pool during the day and a volunteer firefighter at night. He was always the type to run towards danger, rather than away. He didn’t want to leave, but the urge to help others was too strong to ignore.

She knew this too, and she understood that this was a necessity for him, but she’s only human. She can’t help feeling selfish. She wants him for herself, but she’s smart enough to know how good for the world he is. People like him don’t come around as often as they should.

“Why do you want to leave so soon? You don’t have to go until the end of the month. That’s three weeks away,” she said, trying to reason with him; trying to understand why this urge is so strong.

“I told you: when I think too much about things, I second guess myself and I don’t want to second guess myself. People know me as this strong, confident man, with a will as strong as steel. If I don’t go now, I won’t live up to everyone’s expectations.”

“Is that what you fear? Disappointing people?”

“…”

“You’ve been nothing but an inspiration to everyone lucky enough to be around you, babe. Don’t be afraid of what others think. You shouldn’t do this because you think that’s what everyone thinks you should do. Live your own life.”

“You don’t get it,” he said through clenched teeth, throwing his clothes in the bag.

“Get what?”

“If I don’t go, who will? All my life, people tell me I got potential to make a difference in the world. A real difference. Why would I let it go to waste? There are people around the world who are unable to defend themselves from others and I can give them hope of living a decent life; a life where people can wake up everyday enjoying the freedoms we fought so hard for.”

“Don’t get so worked up, babe. Come here,” she says, pulling him close and lying him down with his head resting in her lap. She grabs his hand and kisses it, then asks, “What if you die? Would it be worth it?”

Without hesitation, he says, “One hundred percent. Why should I go on living such a privileged life, knowing millions of people around the world will never have the opportunity if I don’t go.”

“But what are you going to do? You’re one person,” she said confused.

“If I die, I’ll be honored. I’ll be an inspiration for others to do what I do. I need to be the example of the good humans are capable of.”

“One more night?”

“I think you got your wish, babe. Look out the window,” he said.

He pulled up the blinds and the sunrise burst through the window. She turned around and fell into his open arms with tears bursting from her eyes, thanking him for everything he’s done for her, and finally understanding why he has to go.