Sunday, November 25, 2012

Deeper Into The Narrative

It's taken a long time, but I've finally digested some of the advice I got from an editor on how to improve this story, Aurora's Dreams. I have been afraid of revealing too much character. I was trying to establish archetypes without describing the lives of these characters in much detail. I've changed my mind. I was afraid of becoming too autobiographical, but story is what readers come for, and I know I must give it to them. It's surprising though. The deeper I go into the narrative the more difficult (read, painful) it gets. I guess that's good on some level.

So here is the first part of a newly written scene that reveals a bit more about the life of Sunny, the Fat Whore of Babylon.

The jangling ring of the telephone woke her with a start and blindly, she reached for the handset. It was “Stormy” the famous madam Sunny sometimes worked for. Stormy had a light, yet cajoling way about her that was very hard to refuse.  “Sunny, how are you darling? Keeping busy?” Sunny’s head felt heavy, her thoughts crawled like thick honey soaking through stodgy pudding, her eyes refused to open. “Mmm, I’m fine, thank God. How about yourself Stormy?” “You know me, never a dull moment, but I can’t complain… Listen, how would you like to do a little job for me? It would mean a lot, you see it’s a very special client and you’re the only one I trust with my special ones. OK?”

Sunny was feeling too tired to negotiate the terms. She didn’t realise that she’d agreed to anything when Stormy said, “Fine, he’s at a place across town and he’s waiting, and I haven’t got a driver so call a cab, get yourself in the shower and get over there. I’ll tell him you’re on your way, OK honey? That’s my Sunny!” Sunny was sitting up by now and only as she wrote down the address did she realise what she had agreed to do. The client was a new guy, and judging by his hotel, an out of towner. She fought to push down the fears that were rising in her stomach. She called the cab and stumbled towards the shower. It was only ten o’clock in the morning for God’s sake!

The cab ride seemed to take forever. It was almost eleven when she knocked on the door. She roused a smile and hoped for the best. The door was opened by a tall, skinny, weathered man in his late fifties wearing work shorts, an old fashioned cotton short sleeved shirt and dark socks. A farmer from the country. His wiry arms and deeply lined face had the look of a dry river bed. His pale eyes darted one way and another, squinting as the sunlight entered the room. That was the last time she saw his eyes. 

Sunny introduced herself, he didn’t reply, instead he headed to the bed and lay down on top of the covers. “How are you today?” she said as she moved toward the desk. “You’re late. I’ve been waiting since ten o’clock! I’ve got things to do today!” he complained. Momentarily taken off guard Sunny apologised, “I’m sorry, I came as quickly as I could. There was no driver and the taxi took ages to find my place…” He cut her off, “I’ve got a good mind not to pay for this kind of service, get on with it!”

She felt a lump in her throat and her mouth went dry. It was hard to speak but she had to bring up the money.

“Did Stormy say how much it was?”

“Yeah, $60, the money’s on the table. Should be half price at this rate…”

Sunny saw the cash as she got down to her underwear as quickly as she could and placed her clothes on the back of the chair. He was still lying on his back with his clothes on and his eyes closed. She was afraid that if he didn’t pay her she’d have paid the taxi and would still have to pay Stormy. She had to calm him down and make sure he got what he wanted.

She would dream of going to America, not to find her father, he could rot in hell for all she cared; she would be taken away from all this dirt and desperation by a wonderful man who would adore her and take pity on her.

She lived for music and so she sought out the music of America, jazz, as a wistful traveller might read about far away places. America sang a siren song that reached out to her through the unmistakable voice of Billy Holliday. Those sad songs struck a chord deep within her even if she couldn’t understand every word. She drank in every drop of pain, cried every tear and then, slowly, wiping her eyes and brushing back her hair, lifted up her head in defiance.

I haven't written the conclusion to that scene. I have to work up the nerve. Maybe next week.