Our teachable activity was to write something Film Noir-ish while writing in a particular tense and perspective. It turns out I am not particularly good at sticking with a tense. I'm no Billy Pilgrim but I read and write so much with non-linear chronology that I tend to drift.
The Bus - An exercise in third person present writing. (Boulder, 6/24/13)
She’s standing there in the bus station in the rain. But it’s late and likely past the last run of the night. There will be no bus.
Her dress clings to her more closely than it should and she tries to wrap the shawl tighter around her shoulders but she’s sodden. She will not get warm. And there will be no bus.
She paces slightly, slowly. Band and forth under the Plexiglas roof, stopping when she gets to the open doors where the rain blows in. She can take only three steps then a long pirouette and she tries again. The torrents will not stop and she will not get warm.
She’s holding her heels by their straps in one hand. The same hand that frantically clutches the worthless shawl. The expensive shawl. One of the heels has broken but she clings to the expensive pair... the worthless pair as if there may never be another. Her other hand furtively lifts a cigarette to her lips. A suck of breath, a puff of smoke. Three steps and a turn. The torrent does not relent and still there is no bus.
As each cigarette is spent she flicks it out into the street with disdain. Paws into her handbag for another. Fumbles to light it against the wet and the wind with shoes in hand, shawl in fist and shaking. Each time she attempts this she is forced to stop her stride to accomplish the task. She also pauses at each end of her short journey to search down the dark road for a sign of lights. She’s straining to see the bus that will not come through the storm that will not stop.
And now in the distance she sees lights. Coming through the shadowed street, brighter than the flickering halogens overhead and growing closer still. Faster still. She stops pacing and turns her face away in a gesture of impatience and displeasure towards the approaching bus that will not come, does not come.
Instead, an ebony car. And two black forms in a hurry, now blocking both exits of the booth. She screams and they muffle and drag. They disappear into the blackness inside the doors they left gaping for such a purpose. The doors slam, tires screech and the lights fade into the distance again, swerving around large puddles in the street left behind by the rain that will not stop.
The storm rages. The dropped cigarette no longer burns. The muddy shawl no longer tries to warm. And the broken shoes have lost their owner. The bus approaches, stops, moves on, leaving only a stooped old woman bundled against the night. She waddles slowly down the street cursing the bus and muttering incoherently to the storm.
The unfortunate thing about being one of my characters is that it is highly likely that something bad will happen to you. Sorry Charley, even the tuna with great taste ends up dead in the can. I should start keeping a tabs on my morgue.