Friday, September 24, 2010

A Stab At Fiction: Hurricane Jillica

Thanks to the GI Bill, I am back to school working to finish my undergraduate degree. After many different majors, I have finally decided to be broke, but happy, with my English degree. Thus, I am awarded the opportunity to take a fiction class. I have always thought of fiction as a flight of fancy - from a writer's perspective - and have only indulged in it a handful of times.

At Pitt, however, they make you pigeon-hole yourself into one area of English: fiction/non-fiction writing, Literature, or writing for business. I am trying out both fiction and non-fiction, and while non-fiction seems to be a better fit, I thought it might be fun to share my fiction as I work through the assigned exercises. I would welcome your feedback as my specific goal with this story is to write an authentic female main character. The majority of folks in the class seem to give a shit less about the writing process and more about resenting the early hour of the class or sounding like a writer in front of the professor (myself included).

This is the third exercise we did for this class. The instructions were to write the same scene from three different narrative points-of-view. Enjoy.

Joshua M. Patton

Introduction to Writing Fiction

Writing Exercise #3

Hurricane Jillica

First-Person

I glanced down at my watch and I had 20 minutes until the meeting and, after last night, I needed some coffee. As I took the empty elevator down to Dominican Dave’s, the newsstand and barista in the lobby of our building. The elevator doors whisked open breaking the simple silence and I think for a moment that I wouldn’t have minded being stuck in the elevator for the afternoon. Once I passed the elevator bank, I stopped as I watched the new security guard try to flirt with Jillica.

“JILL-ica?” The security guard said with a flirty tone as he held her ID card up to the light.

“It’s pronounced YILL-ica, asshole.” He looked startled, she continued, “Don’t be shocked, some of us actually have jobs that extend beyond a particle-board podium so if you are done staring at my tits, can I go? I see my colleague.” She gestured toward me and I tried to appear sympathetic to the poor guard when looked over at me. Jillica is gorgeous. Smooth skin, nice figure, meticulously-styled hair (not better than mine, but that is why we can be friends). She worked very hard to appear effortlessly beautiful and she often succeeded much to my ire when I have a fat day. “Hey bitch,” Jillica greeted me with her face planted in her multi-colored rhinestone-studded smartphone, “buy you a coffee?”

I shrugged and walked into the store and immediately into the line. It was small and cramped, stuffed with books and magazines in the aisles, but the counter was packed with pastries and coffee accessories. I watched Dave move quickly to take the order, fill it, and ring up the customers to shrink the line with a fervor I never saw when I worked retail.

“Tell me you have something good for today’s meeting,” Jillica implored, “I have nothing to present. All of the dependable designers are churning out crap this year. It’s like I’m starting from scratch. But I did find some really slutty Halloween costumes for next quarter.”

“I’ve got some things, our department will be fine.” I actually had a big presentation planned, but I didn’t want to tip my hand. Elaine Torgoff, the vice-president tapped to replace the head of the purchasing department would be there and I wanted her to notice me.

“Thank God,” Jillica said, trying to discreetly break off a piece of a giant oatmeal cookie cooling on a tray. Dave, even though working on the customer directly in front of them, noticed.

“Hey Miss!” he yelled in his lightly accented voice, “How many times I gotta tell you? No sampling!”

Jillica slowly turned her head to face him, the old man looking at her at first with a look of disdain, quickly replaced by a look of fear. Her blazing blue eyes bored directly into the center of Dave’s forehead, his stern expression fell. “Do they have ‘the customer is ALWAYS right’ in your country? How much money do I spend in here? You cheap. Raghead. FUCK.

Jillica panted dramatically, her ample cleavage heaving. Dave’s eyes were transfixed, the insult disregarded, if even heard at all.

“Dave. Dave!” I snapped my fingers, he snapped to meet my gaze, “Two cookies and two latt├ęs.” Then to Jillica, “This one’s on me. Why not wait outside?”

Jillica glared at Dave again and walked off cursing him in Spanish. Dave looked back at me, these insults he heard. “Doesn’t she know I speak espanol?

Second Person

You glance down at your watch and see that you have 20 minutes until the meeting. You decide to get some coffee. The elevator is empty on the way down to the lobby and you are thankful for the moment of solitude. Especially after being up so late arguing with Conrad. You feel a twinge of disappointment that he didn’t even care how important this meeting was for your career. The elevator’s doors slide open, pulling you out of your thoughts and you round the corner to Dominican Dave’s, the newsstand and barista in the lobby of the building.

Before you can walk into the store, you see your associate Jillica stopped at the security desk by what looks like a new guy. You hope that he isn’t trying to flirt with her.

“JILL-ica?” He say to her. You chuckle quietly to yourself when you hear his flirty tone of voice.

Your friend is beautiful. On good days you appreciate how much work she does to make her beauty appear effortless. On bad days, you try to find one flaw to pick on all day, passive-agressively of course, usually your hair. “It’s pronounced YILL-ica, asshole. Some of us have jobs that extend beyond a particleboard podium, so if you are done staring at my tits, can I go? I see my colleague.” The guard turns a disappointed face to your direction and you try to wear a sympathetic look, even though once he turns back your expression turns into a bemused grin.

“Hey bitch, buy you a coffee?” Jillica asks you when she joins you, looking not at you but engrossed in whatever she was doing on her glitzy, rhinestone-bedazzled smartphone.

You agree and walk into the small, cramped store. There are only two people in front of you, but the small space is so crammed with books, newspapers, and magazines kept things tight. A tray of oatmeal cookies lay cooling on the pastry case on the counter, the rest of which was covered with coffee supplies and accessories. Dave works intensely and you respect how quickly he is working.

“Tell me you have something good for today’s meeting,” Jillica says to you, ““I have nothing to present. All of the dependable designers are churning out crap this year. It’s like I’m starting from scratch. But I did find some really slutty Halloween costumes for next quarter.”

“I’ve got some things, our department will be fine.” You didn’t want to tip my hand to Jillica, but you hoped to impress Elaine Torgoff, the vice-president tapped to replace the head of the purchasing department.

“Thank God,” Jillica says, discreetly breaking off a piece of a cookie..

“Hey Miss!” Dave yells in his lightly accented voice, “How many times I gotta tell you? No sampling!”

You watch Jillica’s blue eyes blaze and her expression makes both Dave and the lawyerly customer in front of you look fearful. “Do they have ‘the customer is ALWAYS right’ in your country? How much money do I spend in here? You cheap. Raghead. FUCK.

You close your eyes, slightly embarrassed at her outburst. When you open them, you see that Dave’s gaze is firmly entrenched in Jillica’s ample cleavage, heaving dramatically after her tirade.

“Dave.” You say. He doesn’t respond. You snap your fingers and again call his name. He snaps his head to face you, and you tell him, “Two cookies and two lattes, please.” Then to Jillica, “Wait outside, this one is on me.”

Jillica mumbles insults in Spanish under her breath as she walks away. Ironically, Dave notices this one. He looks at you helplessly and asks, “Doesn’t she know I speak espanol?” You feel the smile again pulling at the corners of your lips.

If you compliment Dave on his work ethic, Turn to Page 64.

If you tell him to mess up Jillica’s drink, Turn to Page 112.

Third Person

Susan glanced down at her watch and saw that she had 20 minutes until the meeting. The argument with Conrad last night had drained her more than she would ever admit to him. With the presentation she had planned for today, she decided to get a coffee with her time. The elevator arrived on her floor almost immediately and it was blissfully empty. Susan reflected on the presentation, pushing aside all thoughts of Conrad and their problems. The elevator doors whisked open too soon. With a deep breath, Susan exited the lift and walked past the elevator bank toward Dominican Dave’s the newsstand and barista in the lobby of her building.

Before Susan could go into the tiny store, she spotted Jillica, another purchaser for the company, being delayed by a new security guard. Jillica was gorgeous: dark, smooth skin; a beautiful figure; original, flattering clothes; and crisp, blazing blue eyes. On good days, Susan could appreciate how much work she did to appear so effortlessly beautiful. On bad days, Susan would often find a flaw in her armor, usually her hair, and throw underhanded jibes her way all day. Today, however, the security guard was going to get a taste of what Susan liked to call “Hurricane Jillica.”

“JILL-ica?” The security guard said with a flirty tone as he held her ID card up to the light.

“It’s pronounced YILL-ica, asshole.” He looked startled, she continued, “Don’t be shocked, some of us actually have jobs that extend beyond a particle-board podium so if you are done staring at my tits, can I go? I see my colleague.” She gestured toward Susan and she tried to appear sympathetic to the poor guard when their eyes met. When he turned back, Susan smiled and her friend approached her. “Hey bitch,” Jillica said, her face planted in her multi-colored rhinestone-studded smartphone, “buy you a coffee?”

Susan shrugged and they walked into the store and immediately into the line. It was small and cramped, stuffed with books and magazines in the aisles, but the counter was packed with pastries and coffee accessories. A tray of freshly-baked giant oatmeal cookies lay cooling on top of the pastry case. Susan watched Dave move quickly to take the orders, fill them, and ring up the customers to shrink the line with a fervor she never saw when she worked in retail.

“Tell me you have something good for today’s meeting,” Jillica implored, “I have nothing to present. All of the dependable designers are churning out crap this year. It’s like I’m starting from scratch. But I did find some really slutty Halloween costumes for next quarter.”

“I’ve got some things, our department will be fine.” Susan didn’t want to tip her hand. Elaine Torgoff, the vice-president tapped to replace the head of the purchasing department would be there. Susan wanted to be noticed.

“Thank God,” Jillica said, trying to discreetly break off a piece of cookie. Dave, even though working on the customer directly in front of them, noticed.

“Hey Miss!” he yelled in his lightly accented voice, “How many times I gotta tell you? No sampling!”

Jillica slowly turned her head to face him, the old man looking at her at first with a look of disdain, quickly replaced by a look of fear. Her blazing blue eyes bored directly into the center of Dave’s forehead, his stern expression fell. “Do they have ‘the customer is ALWAYS right’ in your country? How much money do I spend in here? You cheap. Raghead. FUCK.

Jillica panted dramatically, her ample cleavage heaving. Dave’s eyes were transfixed, the insult disregarded, if even heard at all.

“Dave. Dave!” Susan snapped her fingers, he snapped his head towards her, “Two cookies and two latt├ęs.” Then to Jillica, “This one’s on me. Why not wait outside?”

Jillica glared at Dave again and walked off cursing him in Spanish. Dave looked crestfallen, these insults he heard. “Doesn’t she know I speak espanol?

 
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