Thursday, November 19, 2009

Selected Works from my Story Telling Theory Folder

I've decided to post some selected works I've accomplished in my storytelling theory class. They're all short stories based on some theme. I won't post every story (some are actually long) but I will post some. Here they are:

1. "Creative Wrong Memory"
This is a short story assignment that combined something I remember, with elements that I invented to fully paint the picture and fill in the gaps of what I don't remember.

I walked into the backyard, where my friend Jahdel was busy cleaning the yard with his mother. It was a sunny morning, during the summer, making it very nice out.

“Hi Justin,” he said amiably.

I remained stoic. Usually when I haven’t seen anyone for a while or just meeting someone I tend to remain behind a wall of indifference and restricted interest. I’m like this because I’m naturally shy so I end up being quiet and monotonous, uninterested.

I walked into the yard. “Hi. What are you doing?”

“Cleaning up the yard.”


“I’ve got a new kite though.”

“Oh.” I appeared to be no more interested, but I was. “Where is it?”

“Here…” He fetched a small orange bag, walked to the fence, and threw it into the air. With a small thump, the kite burst out of the bag and expanded into shape, falling to the ground.


“Yeah. But I have to finish cleaning first.”


“Want to help?”

I hesitated. I think I felt a little annoyed, because I was getting sucked right into all the activity and action of the yard, even though it was just cleaning. I reluctantly agreed, and we finished sweeping. Soon the small yard and patio was clean.


We stood in the courtyard, myself, Jahdel, and his mother. We were going to launch the kite, or Jahdel was, and I was going to watch while his mother held it for him. We were ready.

Poised with the string, he was going to run in a straight direction on his mother’s ‘go.’ All was quiet.


He ran. I watched from my fence. He ran, bent forward, in determination. But there was a problem…oh, no…

His mother yelled, “Jahdel, watch out..!”

He couldn’t see where he was going. And where he was going wasn’t good, because his current destination was the green metal junction box that sat in the middle of the courtyard.


Jahdel’s cranium made brutal impact with the thick metal, which absorbed all his speed, momentum and weight. Right away he fell backwards onto the ground, already starting to cry. He would certainly have some great headache today after having used his skull as a stopper for 135 pounds, increased with speed and momentum. He walked away from the area and back into his yard, a distressful mess, yelling about how he would never fly his kite again (though he’d barely gotten it out of his mother’s hands before the impact). While he did this, his mother and I continued the fight of suppressing our laughter, and ultimately losing. Yes, Jahdel came close to splitting his skull open, but his failure to satisfactorily keep his eyes on the horizon had yielded ridiculously hilarious results.


2. "Snaky Strangers on some Train"
This short story had to be written about some random person having a random talk with a sudden stranger, and how it produces unexpected results.

It was not usual for me to befriend the guy on the train that spent all his time standing outside his compartment staring at everything. It was the second day of my trip from Winnipeg to Ottawa, and I had been scrutinized by that person ever since. He’d gotten on the train with me at the Canadian Pacific Railway station in Winnipeg, and he’d been on the train since.

This man was tall, had long grey hair, a long grey beard, and had a wardrobe consisting of jeans and a green-striped T-shirt, alternating between pale green and grass-green. He had keen, watchful eyes and had pack of cigarettes hidden in his pocket. You may think that I would avert my eyes to his watchful gaze, but how else would I have been able to write down all this stuff about his appearance? Besides, I’m not intimidated by people who just look at me.

I left my compartment this morning to find the usual stare from the man. I was on my way to the bathroom, which was at the end of the carriage. After doing what I normally do, I went back out.

“S’beautiful morning,” he suddenly started.

“Oh-what? Oh, yes. It is.”

“So what are you up to?”

I stopped in my tracks. “Sorry?”

“What are you up to?”

“Um, none of your business. Sorry.”

“Sure it isn’t. Obviously. But I was just attempting to be friendly.”

“Oh…well, do you have any friends?”

“In Ottawa I do.”

“Oh. And in Winnipeg?”

“Family. You?”

“Friends. My family is in Ottawa.”

“Ah, so we’re the opposite.”

I’d thought so myself. Ever since I’d gotten a look at him. “Yes, I guess we are.”

“Right. What do you think of windsurfing?”

“Windsurfing?” The train of thought struck me all of a sudden. The man changed subjects like they were disposable tissues. “Uh…I don’t know. I don’t windsurf.”

“I do. It’s fun.”

“Oh. Now that I’m here talking to you, what would your name be?”

“Leland. And yours?”


“Excellent. Good morning, Kevin.”

“You too, Leland.” I felt like I was being sucked into a whole thing here, whatever that was. Just a big thing. I was standing in a train corridor, swopping first-names with a green-shirted, red-eyed, long-haired stranger who appeared to smoke cigarettes. Soon I learnt that his proper name was Leland Sklar. I had a mental bet going on in my head that the name ‘Sklar’ was unique to him. I gave him my proper name – Kevin Barrymore – and we were off.

“I moved to Ottawa in 1996,” proclaimed Leland. “I’ve found that it’s a nicer climate and, well, my job transferred me there. I’m a bassist.”

“Mm.” Actually, it was quite a surprise for me to hear that he played the instrument, for I did too.

“What kind of bass do you play? Stand-up bass, washtub or electric?”

“Oh, I normally play electric. I use a Dingwall. I’m in a band. But I do own a stand-up as well.”

“Huh. You know what, Leland? I play bass in a band too.”

His eyes lit up. “Oh? Well that’s an interesting coincidence. My big highlight was being a session player for Phil Collins.”

“Sorry? You’re not kidding?”

“Sure. I played on tour with him. Actually, I think there’s footage of it on YouTube. You see, the song he did, “Another Day in Paradise…”

But I wasn’t listening to him so much anymore. My number one goal of mine when I got home was to look up that footage on YouTube. I knew what he was talking about.

“Leland – you played on that song? Really?”

“Yes, I did. It was fun, actually. Very tense.”

“That’s the song with the drum machine and the keyboards, right?”

“Uh, well, yes, that’s how people recognize it. But it’s about the homelessness, and the problem of it.”

“Oh. Well, I’ll look up that footage.”

“I shouldn’t be too hard to recognize.”

“Not with that beard.”

“Oh, no.” He chuckled.

We continued our talk. By the late evening we stopped. Well, we had to. I was getting off at Fallowfield Station, and he was getting off at the central station further up the line. I said my reluctant goodbye, then headed home.

As soon as I got there, I located the video on YouTube. He wasn’t kidding. The song was beautiful.

I’d spent the majority of my time on a VIA train feeling weary of that man’s eyes. But just through a simple conversation, I soon found out that he was a legendary session bassist. My God.

I guess it pays to talk to random strangers sometimes.


3. "The Amazing Articulated Bus Accident"
This story had to be based on three factors: One person was called 'Donald Sinclare' (my suggestion), the other was to be called 'Leroy Jenkins' (this was for some reason a funny name to the people who suggested it) and the story had to involve a bus crash, namely an articulated one. Again, my decision.

Also, a monkey, or some form therof, had to be present. The reason being that someone came to class late, and my teacher demanded a random thought or word out of him as he came in, he didn't care. Thus, 'monkees' was his spontaneous answer.
(Note: --- means that the POV has changed between people)


Two men are on a commute. One, named Donald, is on a speeding articulated bus and feels annoyed and happy that it is speeding. The other, Leroy, is on a bike plowing along the street, riding on the road. This is during a snowstorm.


THE driver, in my opinion, was going way too fast on a road such as Merivale during the winter, during a darn winter storm. Was his head controlled by a monkey brain? On the other hand, we were going fast enough for me to be on time, and that mattered a lot more to me than whether the driver had opposable thumbs.

I rode my bike on the side of the street, but not on the sidewalk. I’d stopped using the sidewalk years ago and have felt free on the busy streets.

It was always so cluttered anyway, being on the sidewalk. When you’re on the street, everything’s quicker, faster-paced. No people in the way. And I like riding there. I just feel free.

Today was a little different, though. I was riding up Merivale, and that busy road went slightly uphill some of the way. The problem was that it was winter, and it was during a storm that I was doing this. Not that it bothered me much. I just found it a tad bit harder to move myself along.

We sped onward, practically overtaking cars. I realized for once that I would be early. This was unusual and so great that I felt good. We were coming up to an intersection. Then, something I was deeply worried about the whole time on this bus happened. The light turned yellow. And we were still far away, even if we were going fast. We weren’t going to make this light.

I had just passed the intersection before the light changed (thank god, I was on a roll here). My destination wasn’t that far ahead, maybe just past Meadowlands. I was meeting with some friends at Wendy’s. The road was slippery with slush, and busy with traffic, and the snow was coming down, so I couldn’t stop. I was almost there. I was on a roll.

The light turned red just as the bus crossed the cross walk. There was a stop right on the corner we just passed. Why didn’t someone ring the bell before we passed that stop? Then we wouldn’t have driven past, through a red light. We were going, what? almost 70 km/h? That’s what it seemed.

Then, as I looked to my left, out the window, I saw the big truck. The kind of truck found on construction sites, the kind of truck that dumps out gravel and dirt and whatever. It was right outside my window – and it was coming right at me. I cried out and looked away, just in time.

As I was continuing my way up the road, I heard a loud bang from behind me. Looking back, I noticed a big bus – the extra long accordion kind – speeding in my direction. The rear end had swerved outward, sliding up onto the sidewalk. I was only ten metres away.

It must’ve been unknown wisdom I had, to have looked in the opposite direction. As it was, I also tried to get away from seat, but I barely got anywhere. I heard the window smash inward just as the floor under me moved forward so fast that I was knocked backwards to my seat. Other people were either thrown off their seats into the aisle or thrown against the windows if they were on my side of the bus. Being in the rear section of an articulated bus, we started to careen sideways. We still had a lot of speed and momentum. I was quite scared at that moment, really.

In retrospect, I think it was stupid of me to have not abandoned my bike and get up onto the sidewalk and into the parking lot beyond, out of range of the rear-end of that bus. Of course, in reality I stayed on my bike in the hopes that I could speed away from there.

Looking back again, the bus was closing in. I noticed the metal pole that supported the traffic light. I hoped it would slow the advancing segment down. As I looked around again, the pole had indeed been knocked down, but the rear segment kept advancing. How did the pole not hinder the darn thing? Was it so heavy that a small, light object as a pole not have any effect on it at all? I kept on going, but the slush was slowing me down. Why didn’t I move? Other people were running away, getting out of the range of the impending rear end.

I heard another bang and realized we knocked out the traffic signal. We were still going fast, however, and I heard the brakes screaming. They weren’t very helpful due to the slush and ice on the road, especially since half the bus was moving sideways. Wind and snow hollered through my window. I hoped we would slow down and stop. I really did.

I felt myself being forced forward as the side of the bus knocked into me. I fell down. I yelled in freight. The bus was coming over me. It looked as if the bus would slide over me. The clearance between it and the ground was not high but not too low. I was still worried and scared out of my mind. I ducked. Everything was happening way to fast.

You wouldn’t believe all the stuff I got caught up on as the bus slid over me. Something hit my head, and many other things caught my jacket and threatened to pull me with them. Near me, my bike evidently had come into contact with something, as it was moving away from me. I heard it scraping along the pavement and it sounded like part of it was being trampled. Maybe it was forced underneath at an odd angle? All I know is that I was rocked about, rolling around and knocking into things above and around me that were cold and hard and potentially lethal. I couldn’t believe my predicament. I thought I was going to die. The ground was cold and wet and slippery, and it was that and the oily metal parts, some of them moving, that I was caught in between as I tumbled around. I hoped like crazy that I wouldn’t come across the wheels, or the low-lying differential, which would crush me if I were to slid under. I couldn’t stop moving. Everything was hitting me.

Then, everything was black, obsidian.

The bus had finally stopped, about twenty metres from the intersection. Back there, the truck had spun out of control and had know sat on the corner, having smashed the bus shelter I’d wished we’d stopped at. A traffic signal, pole and all, lay on the ground, and skid marks were on the pavement. On the sidewalk were white lines, from metal gouging and scraping it. The whole place looked like a disaster. Another car had slid through in the truck’s wake, and it now sat in an odd angle halfway across the intersection, facing another car. Luckily, it looked undamaged.

What struck me was the ambulance, the mangled bike still under the bus, and the figure lying on the ground. Was he dead or was he unconscious? I didn’t know. As I stood with all the other commuters who had gotten off the bus (everyone had to), I noticed a white blanket the paramedics were putting on the guy. Was it a body bag? Or was it a blanket to keep the victim warm? I didn’t know.

I never knew.


So there are my selected readings. I'm only including these three as they are mostly short and quick, and my favorites. Other than these stories I've written for that class, I've also done a story about a man living in a caravan (the theme was to pick something out of the personals section of the paper and that's what I found) which is my longest so far, a short story about my being late to CAFW class based on the theme of a ticking clock, a short dialogue between two people on a bus, a short story of a goth girl who isn't what she seems (taken from a photo we had to base it on, and I chose the photo of a female goth person), and that's about it. The articulated bus story was the most recent, and I felt quite hilarious coercing the class to write about something only I would likely write about, through the teacher. Buses, and articulated one, interest me, and there's a question on my profile page (how much to regular and articulated buses weigh?) reflecting this. I'm sitting in class and I notice my friend Sean write the words "suddenly, an articulated bus turned the corner" and I see that he would never write about that kind of thing normally, that it's my odd influence. It makes me laugh. Everyone had to write about it. And hey, I could have said something like 'Madness' or 'aerial photos.' Imagine a class writing about that? Based on my influence and interest? Man, that's a funny thought.

Hope they were good anyway.

-Justin C.

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