Scott Hardie | March 20, 2002
A few entries ago, I said that I was having trouble with my 25-30 page story for a fiction workshop class. The story idea that I really wanted to do, a rock band living in a house in an ordinary suburban neighborhood, wasn't working because, as Kelly helped me realize, the characters were stereotypes and I couldn't give that many characters a third dimension in such a small space. I had a few other ideas and a few other false starts. Eventually I dug up a plot outline that I'd written back in 1995 but never turned into a story, and turned that into a 21 story very heavy with plot. It turned out so-so. (I hope the other students realize that I intentionally limited the narrative voice to an eighth-grader's vocabulary.)

Anyway, I like the first three paragraphs of my rock band story, so I want to put them up here. Writing teachers have told me that they can tell what authors the students are reading by the voice of their work - I'm reading Michael Chabon right now, and it definitely shows. I was also listening to the Misfits while writing this. Please leave karma as to whether you like this or don't.


The problems began in the late stages of Edward Kohlman Sr.'s cancer, when it was finally clear to everyone that he was actually going to die. His wife Patricia had died many years earlier, and without her Edward had managed to raise one good son and one bad son. The good son, Jake, was a sophomore sociology major at UIUC, only home twice a year except for the wake. The bad son, Edward Jr. - or, as he had an ex-girlfriend airbrush on his guitar, "Eddie" - was a college dropout living in his childhood bedroom and practicing every day in the garage with his rock band, Wraith.

Pathetic Human Beings was the original name of the band, but then they got a new singer, Oscar, who shrieked like Paul Baloff when he got worked up, and who had about as much talent. Oscar was eighteen and not very bright, but he had long hair, looked great in a leather jacket and no shirt, and was just sexy enough leaning on a mic stand to pass for something legitimate. Eddie was the guitarist, and somehow imagined himself as cooler than that other Eddie who played lead guitar. He dyed his hair red and wore black tank tops every day, rain or shine, no matter how much they clashed with his pasty white skin. His girlfriend, Cyndi, played keyboards for the group and occasionally sang whenever they
covered Heart or Girlschool. She was talented, but as a keyboardist in a pseudo-metal band, she could only accomplish so much. The bassist was Ramon, who looked out of place in the group with his fuzzy afro and bell-bottoms, but his talent earned him the right not to be questioned. He had wowed Cyndi and Eddie at amateur night at a club downtown, and he happily accepted their invitation to join the band, sleeping in his van in the driveway. The last member of the group was Tim, the drummer, who was glad he lived close to Chicago so he could find leather pants in triple-XL sizes. He was nerdy and anxious, prone to chewing his nails and tapping his feet. It was safe to say that he had found his calling.

The problem with Edward's passing, besides the dying part, was that he was sure to leave the house to Eddie in his will. He had already started a trust fund for Jake, who was sure to drink to it when it matured in three months' time. There was a decent amount of money, and there was the house, the Camry, and the pet boxer, Teacup, all of which Eddie was happy to inherit. As the neighborhood had feared, while the sympathy cards stacked up in the mailbox for two weeks after Edward died, the Camry was given badly applied flame decals; the dog, rechristened T-Cup, had become a daddy-to-be with both a malamute and a young German shepherd down the street; and the house had become an abode of Dionysian licentiousness. Beer cans littered the azaleas, the kitchen resembled the city landfill, one upstairs window remained broken after a lamp had passed through it in the middle of a fight, the wooden gnome in the garden had acquired a crown of yellow panties, and Tim had thrice passed out on the couch on the lawn. Worse than any of these was the noise coming from the graffiti-stained garage, which, in the old man's sudden absence, had transformed into the rehearsal studio for an awfully emphatic and emphatically awful rock band bent on being the loudest in the neighborhood, undaunted by the lack of competition. The members of Wraith, whether inebriated, hungover, or temporarily sober, practiced loudly without regard to the time, the presence of neighbors, or the importance of skill. They weren't trying to get better with each performance so much as trying to out-enthuse themselves.

Jackie Mason | March 21, 2002
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Scott Hardie | March 22, 2002
Eh, it gets complicated, but Eddie and Cyndi would become a domesticated couple (though still a little wild), Oscar would court Cyndi but eventually fall for a young widow in the neighborhood and marry her, Tim and Ramon would be less lucky. The neighborhood, led by the rich Shapiros, would try to get them to leave, but come to accept them. After Oscar married, he'd quit, letting the Shapiro's daughter take over as lead singer. Probably end with a concert. I planned more stuff than this, but I'm too lazy to type it. :-)

Jackie Mason | March 23, 2002
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Scott Hardie | March 23, 2002
Oh god... As if TC wasn't full enough of crap already... ;-)

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