Writing Prompts

Ok, I’ve got my blog going now, so it’s time to reign in my giddiness, stop the Snoopy happy dance, and get back to work.

One common writing advice I’ve seen so far has been this:  you need to try to write something daily.  One way to do that is via writing prompts.  There are no shortages of them out there, and I have a few in the books here.  So I’ll put that practice into good use here on the blog.  After all, this is primarily all about sharing my writing experience!

As I’m still learning how to drive this 21st century vehicle I’ll see how often I can post it here.  Next month classes start and I don’t want to commit until I get settled into some kind of rhythm.

So, with that in mind here’s my first.  It’s just an exercise, just shaking the rust off, and it’s raw like fresh meat.  I just read the prompt, started the clock, and started writing:

PROMPT:  You get into work and find that your boss has left a voicemail message on your phone. The message is urgent. Though, what’s peculiar is that the message is not work related. Write this scene. 

Nothing, absolutely nothing, drives me crazier than to leave for work earlier than usual only to run into a traffic jam caused by a wreck. I just absolutely lose it as I sit there and watch a fifteen-minute lead-time morph into a 45-minute late arrival. So now here I am getting off the elevator with a look on my face that would scare a serial killer into turning himself in to the police and mentally telling the calm side of my brain  – the side that’s whispering “it could have been worse, it could have been you in that wreck” – to shut up.

Luckily, everyone’s either on the phone or not in their cubicle so I don’t have to talk about being late.  As I drop my backpack into the visitor’s chair by my desk I see the voice mail light is on. I just know that this not going to be good.  I check the caller ID for recent calls and wouldn’t you know it… it’s my boss.  OK, if I jab the letter opener into my thigh will I wake up from what I pray is just a nightmare.

So I take a deep breath and dial into the voice mailbox.  After listening to the standard welcome message I get:

“You have one urgent message.  To listen to your messages please press one.  To use other options…”

No need to prolong this, I’ve already lost two promising clients this month and was late preparing a presentation for a third client last week and now I’m late this morning… might as well get it over with. I press 1, little knowing what I hear next will eventually lead me to wish it was me in that wreck.

“Hi Dennis, this is Stu.  As soon as you get in I need to talk to you.”

I start wondering if my best friend from college is still the General Manager of that grocery  chain and if he can get me a job mopping floors.

“It’s real important my man, and I gotta tell you it’s real personal, and I wouldn’t bother you with this if I didn’t trust you. Thankfully it’s got nothing to do with anything here at the job, but I really need  a face to face with you before I say anything more.  I should be available up to 9:00 so come see me as soon as you get in. Got to take an urgent call at 9:15.”

All right, the day just took off in another direction, and now I really feel like I’m not in control of anything. Doesn’t make me feel any better when I look at the desk clock and see it change from 8:55 to 8:56.

In an office record two-minute sprint up the stairs, bypassing the elevators that took  five minutes to bring me up from the ground floor  earlier, I made it to Stu’s office.  I am wondering how many more logs are going to be added to the fire that’s consuming my job, as now I also have to remember to apologize to Polly for knocking her files and her man-eating plants off the edge of her desk during this mad dash.

“Yo Stu, sorry about the timing. God’s truth I ran into that wreck by the Hillside exit. I – “

Stu raised a hand to silence me then motioned me to sit down, all while  flipping through pages of a red folder  that definitely didn’t look like the ones we’re using.  I look closer trying to see if I can make out the words on what appears to be a business card inserted into the lower right corner of the folder front. While I couldn’t make out the words I was about eighty percent certain it looked like a card you’d get from an attorney at some very heavy law firm.  Serious embossing we’re talking here.  Yep, there’s a name and another name and an ampersand there sure enough.

So now the gears in my brain are starting to resemble an  old Looney Tunes cartoon, you know the one where the brain has all these gears grinding and sputtering and springs popping out.

Stu, half glasses perched on the end of his nose and wearing the worse frown I’ve ever seen on him, closes the folder, sighs heavily and lets the folder just fall out of his hands onto the desk.  Was it my imagination, but it sure seemed when it landed it sounded like it was volume S of  the World Book Encyclopedia, even though it looks like only about ten pages max.  Giving another big sigh and rubbing his eyes under his glasses, Stu leans forward, crossing his arms on his desk, and I don’t recognize this man I thought I knew for ten years at this moment.

“Dennis, this is seriously personal, and seriously deep.  I need your help but I gotta tell you before I say anything else you can walk away from this and it’ll be like we never talked as far as I’m concerned.  Not going to get mad at ya, hell I won’t blame you for walking.  But at least let me know right now if I need to stop talking.”

Ten years I’ve known this man.  I was his first hire after his promotion into management, and stayed with him as he rose up the ranks.  While I don’t count him among my innermost circle of friends, he’s right there in the next circle.   Still, I didn’t think we were at the place where he’s now drawing me into something sounding so urgent.  But I’m thinking there’s got to be some real trust going on here to even come to me with this, and he’s a man of his word.  If I walk, there’s no payback coming from him.  Well I could at least hear what’s going on.  If nothing else, the morbid side of me’s saying “dude, you’ll know stuff no one else in the office knows about your boss.  That’s cool!”

“Stu, you know I’m not going to leave you hanging like that.  At least let me hear what’s up.  I gotta tell you, I mean, if I think it’s too deep for me I gotta tell you I’d at least want to give you any advice if I could.  Does that make sense, can we run with that?”

The longest minute of my life crawls by as Stu stares at me over his glasses.  Sighing yet again he leans back in his chair, and there goes my imagination again as the creaking sound from the chair sounds like one of those doors closing in an old black and white horror movie.

“Ok Den, let me at least give you the highlights.  Gotta deal with this call in a few minutes.  I’ll give you enough to at least see if I need to move on, and you have to trust me on not being upset if you can’t help me.  Hey, what I tell you should guarantee I can’t touch you!  Ok, here’s a couple of names you need to remember:  Booger Johnson and Itchy Philips.”

… to be continued

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