I was woolgathering on the way to work today, when The Beatles’ Daytripper came on the radio. [Yes, the radio – and YES, the oldies station.] I started thinking about a character that I created for a friend’s Super Hero campaign a few years ago — a young time controller named Marley Burch, who named his alter ego after the song.
Then it hit me. Didn’t I start a story about that guy and never finish it?
It took a little digging on my computer, but I found it! It’s totally a WiP relic — the beginning of the first chapter, with no ending. It just kinds of peters out. You’ll also notice some odd numbers at the beginning of each story beat — mad bonus points if you can figure out what I was getting at. Trust me, it took me more than a few minutes to remember. Then I shook my head and said aloud “You are a goddamn nerd, sir.”
For historic purposes, I’m dumping this on the blog – UNEDITED. There are several typos and I would dearly like to give it a serious edit, but for now here it is, in all it’s unabashed glory.
Anyone playing the home game — I wrote this in January of 2010, about 8 months before Lodestar began. If this blog is partly a travelogue of my adventures in writing, then this is an example of the first time I went camping — then got scared at 2 AM and ran back home.
TC: 11-17-1984-1615-32 E:14-9-3-6-5-46
Marley was ahead.
The blue water finned off his hands like a tidal wave. He cut through the chlorinated sea, arms dolphin-ing. As he reached the far wall, he flipped lazily, catching a quick glance at his opponents. He stopped, and waved at the coach on the far end of the pool. The rest of the team were thrashing mightily between the ropes to catch up with him.
They weren’t even halfway across the pool. Chumps.
Sucking in a lung-exploding amount of air, he kicked off from the side. Marley grinned. He was about to make this Olympic-sized pool seem small. Out of nowhere, the last song he heard on the radio popped in his head. I’ve got my back against the record machine / I ain’t the worst that you’ve seen. / Oh can’t you see what I mean?
Water rushed past his goggles, and he reached for more.
TC: 11-17-1984-1616-51 E:14-9-3-6-5-48
Marley flung himself out of the pool, and spun around. He had gained even more distance on the other swimmers.
“Ha, ha…c’mon…really? Did you guys shit bricks in your trunks?” he said respectfully.
Marley prepared himself to do the Turtle Dance. His teammates hated the Turtle Dance. As did Coach Hendricks, his parents, his teachers, and basically anyone who wasn’t Marley.
Laying chest down on the dripping poolside, he began to move his hands in a flipper like manner. Pushing gently with his toes he moved, slowly, towards the edge of the pool. As the other swimmers popped up at the end of their lanes they were met by a goddamned annoying sight. Marley had flipped his goggles inside out, and was wobbling his head back and forth.
“Awwww….so…..slow…..” Marley began, “…do….you want to …DANCE…with me?”
Rising, he began to wave his flippers in a stately manner.
The response was mixed. The upper classmen rolled their eyes and headed for the showers. The two other freshmen on the team snickered behind their hands. But they left speedily once the chanting began.
“Tur-tul-DANCE. Tur-tul-DANCE. Tur-tul-DANCE!” Marley intoned. His flippers waggled in time to the beat.
He turned to watch his teammates [a.k.a. the losers] walk off to the shower. He saw Coach Hendricks approach, rubbing his forehead. The coach was a younger sort of teacher, no grey hair yet in his close-cropped sandy hair or in his mustache. Marley hoped to create the first.
“Tur-tul-DANCE?” he queried.
Coach Hendricks sighed.
Marley Burch was the star of the Kingscross High swim team. Only a freshman, he was shattering school records right and left, and was making the Coach’s dreams of winning state jack-knife in his head. But this kid is so goddamned annoying, the coach thought.
Marley pushed his goggles back on his head. His yellow-blonde hair was turning vaguely green on the ends from over-exposure to chlorine. He knew that look on the coach’s tanned face. A lecture was coagulating. He stared intensely at the coach’s mustache. If he concentrated hard enough on the mustache, the worst of the lecture would probably spill over him.
“Marley, you ‘ve got to stop parading around every time you win a race. And that was the sloppiest flip-turn I’ve ever seen! It’s bad sportsmanship and really low class. I’m surprised the older boys haven’t worked you over in the locker room the way you carry on! You’re short and 110 pounds soaking wet, don’t you see that I….”
TC: 11-17-1984-1626-01 E:14-9-3-6-11-17
..wear my sunglasses at night. I wear my sunglasses at night, I wear my sunglasses at night. I said to you now: I wear my sunglasses at night.
“MARLEY!” Coach Hendricks roared.
Marley snapped to attention. “Yes, sir coach – I’ll work harder on my backstroke, and eat four oranges every night before bed, you got it!”
A moment of silence gaped opened like the maw of a crocodile.
Coach Hendricks ran a hand down his face. Finger shaking, he pointed towards the locker room.
Marley skipped away, humming. His ability to block out useless yammering was approaching Jedi-like levels. Excellent. He couldn’t remember much of what Coach said, but it was really better that way.
TC: 11-17-1984-1658-19 E:14-9-3-6-43-35
Marley slid into the passenger seat of his dad’s Volkswagen. The Wabbit had a pleasant leathery, grimy smell that patted him on the head every time he got in. He carefully pocketed the blood-stained paper towel. Fortunately, his nose had stopped bleeding moments before his dad had pulled into the natatorium parking lot. He hated unnecessary questions.
“But whyyyyyyyyy? “ the small female in the backseat whined. Marley sighed.
“Jennifer. Hush, you’ve been complaining for blocks. I am not allowing you to go to a spend-the-night party with your grades in the toilet! That is final. I have spoken. So let it be written, so let it be DONE.” said Marley’s dad. His eyes remained fixed on the road.
Marley rolled his eyes, and turned to catch his sister’s eye through the narrow space between the seats. Ask mom, he mouthed.
Jennifer nodded in understanding, but still flounced further into the back seat – a scowl etched.
Ensuring a modicum of peace for the ride home, Marley shifted his gaze to the passenger window. Without moving his eyes, he reached across the console and turned the radio up. His dad registered the movement with his eyebrows, but did nothing to stop him.
They headed down to, ooh, to El Paso. That’s where they ran into a great big hassle. Billy Joe shot a man while robbing his castle…
TC: 11-17-1984-1702-04 E:14-9-3-6-43-56
Why did his Dad never look at him while they were in the car? Fortunately, he could pass off his red-face as a reaction to the cold, and not from the knuckle-sandwich he’d just eaten. But still. Marley thoughtfully began drumming on the dashboard.
“Stop that.”, his Dad said.
TC: 11-17-1984-1708-49 E:14-9-3-6-49-33
..in Baltimore, jack. I went out for a ride and I never went back. Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing. I took a wrong turn and I just kept going…
TC: 11-17-1984-1717-32 E:14-9-3-6-55-46
As the Wabbit pulled into the driveway, Marley’s nose started bleeding again.
TC: 11-17-1984-1719-11 E:14-9-3-6-56-48
The carpet of the hall was a muted beige.