Beginnings — Chapter 2
D. Paul Angel
This is a continuation of “Beginnings,” Mark Gardner’s #FridayFlash from 26 September 2014 on his fantastic blog Article 94. Mark wrote it as a stream of consciousness piece on an old school typewriter. In the comments he gave me permission to continue to the story, and you’ll find that below. Having added my piece, I would now invite someone else to take on the next chapter and see how this story unfolds. Let me know in the comments below if you’d like to write the next chapter!
My body hung in the life vest, gently bobbing with each swell. If I turned my head far enough I could just see James turning the Zebedee in a slow arc to come back and pick me up. I’d been working with him for almost a year now, but this was easily my biggest mistake. And I’d made plenty.
I remembered a lot of the mistakes, and just how many of them James caught before they could escalate. It was frustrating at first. Well, at second and third too; probably more so because he never seemed angry or upset by anything. It was always either a nod, a few words of correction, or a quick tap on the shoulder. It had been frustratingly incessant the first couple weeks. I couldn’t turn around without him telling me something I was doing wrong. Always patient, always firm: always there.
I realized as I was floating that he hadn’t hardly corrected me at all for days. Weeks? I couldn’t even remember for sure, but at least a awhile. And then I up and fall off the damned boat.
I could only imagine what he was going to say when he got me back on deck. I went through everything again: getting tangled in the line, trying to haul up more net than I easily lug, and so on down the list. Well, at least I’d already have the answers when he started asking me about doing things different!
He eased the motors to idle and the boat drifted by slowly. Down on one knee he reached out and clasped my arm. He possessed deceptive strength for an old, scrawny guy and easily hauled me up.
“Thanks,” I said, truly grateful. Nothing really gives you a sense for the size of the ocean so much as drifting in it, even for a short time. “I know what I did wrong, James,” I began, but he cut me off.
“Of course you do, Steve. But I’d wager you’d like to have dry clothes on. Off you go, then back to work. You had your break for the day,” he added with a twinkle to his eye before lighting another cigar.
“Um, uh, thanks again,” I stammered. I ducked into the cabin and came out a few minutes later far dryer and with clean clothes on.
“Do you want to know what happened?”
“I know what happened,” he said, “I watched it.”
“Then why didn’t you stop me? You’ve been on me about everything else the last year.”
“Has it really been a year already? Time flies, doesn’t it?”
“Yes,” I said, feeling some of the old frustration from rarely knowing how he was going to react to anything. “But that has nothing to do with why you suddenly stopped correcting me just before I went overboard.”
“Yes!” I admit I snapped a little, “That.”
“Did you like being in the water?”
“Of course not!”
“Are you going to do it again?”
“Well, no. I know what I did wrong. I had some time to think about it while bobbing up and down in the wake.”
“Then you didn’t really need me to teach you anything, did ya? You got the lesson all on your own.”
“But everything else was so much smaller.”
“At the time, yeah. But those little mistakes could quickly become big ones, and, really, how many of them were obvious mistakes to a greenhorn?”
I found myself there for a little bit, looking up and remembering many, many such lessons. He was right. What he had caught me on weren’t necessarily obvious blunders, but in hindsight they could have turned out far worse than an unexpected, late afternoon salt-water bath.
“Huh,” I finally replied, taking it all in.
“‘Huh,’ indeed. Just remember Steve,” he said poking me square in the chest with his index finger firmly wrapped around his stogie, “you can’t rush ready. So don’t get cocky.”
Miss Alister continues the story with Chapter 3 — The Transference
26 thoughts on “Beginnings Chapter 2 — Overboard”
I love it! We just need someone to continue it.
I’m glad you liked it! I really did discard 3 prior drafts after having a good friend read them. Hopefully someone else wants to know what happens next.
I’ve been emailing Eldih at thaininvain.com to do more collaborative prompts in 2015
Excellent. This was my first real attempt at collaborative writing, and it was harder than I thought it was going to be. But, I ended up enjoying the challenge!
An effective way to teach a lesson!
Indeed! Thanks for reading 🙂
I caught the spirit of this story in the Gardner scans – good voice. Maybe it’s the 1949 Remington, old as the hills with this tale screaming to get out… Whatever it is, it looks for all the world like the lad Steve was chosen by the old timer, “doomed” from the get-go, but we’ll see. That coin. It’s all in that coin… And maybe the stairs that lead to the bottom of the sea perhaps…
And in this piece, I like the Zebedee bit which harks back to biblical days… Also it’s interesting that I mentioned the Sea of Galilee in the start of a 4-part creepy tale in this week’s Friday Flash… Anyway, I’m intrigued. This has my interest, big-time. I’m in the middle of editing a client’s manuscript yet I have to say I’m thinking of ways to fit this in… How about we do the roulette thing and if no one else bites, count me in!
It really is a fascinating story that Mark has started, isn’t it? At this point no one else has approached me looking to continue it, so it is yours if you want. I know how time can be an issue, however, it also took me two weeks to get mine up because I had to discard 3 drafts to get here 🙂 Let me know if you want to take it up officially, and when you post I’ll link to your story so readers can readily jump to yours.
It definitely has a pull, yes, and the type from the old Remington added mystique, like papers found in a dead author’s desk drawer. It worked on me overnight like nobody’s business and I woke up with a mental draft of the next bit, so yes, I want it, absolutely, officially!
It’s yours! Cannot wait 😀
I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with! Heck, maybe we should all try banging away on a 65-year old typewriter! 🙂
Good, Mark. My initial idea has blossomed from the original, as ideas will… Been chomping at the bit to get to it and have cleared tomorrow for dashing it off. Yesss! Am in the UK presently and you have no idea how I’d like to get at my ancient old Corona back in the States, but I think I’ll make due with an old Underwood font I’ve got. Anyway, the spirit of this story has already been laid down via the Remington and that is all that’s required : )
I’m looking forward to it as well!
Friday | 17 Oct 14 at 1549 PDT
I’m looking forward to it as well!
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Awesome. Saturday dash, Sunday fine-tune, and we’ll see what happens despite my idea of what will happen! It’ll be fun also to see what you all think of it and especially to see where it goes from there. I’ll let you know the instant it’s live : )
Nice writing and what an effective way to teach a lesson! ^_^
It’s a done deal, man. The third installment has been posted and entered to Sunday Scribblings 2 and Friday Flash, and tomorrow I’ll see what the 3WW words are and stick them in the story and add it there. I so want someone to grab the baton and run with it and see where it goes, and on and on from there until the end : )
Awesome! I’m just about to turn in, but I will edit mine to link to yours in the morning 🙂