Sometimes people ask me why I don’t write fiction. Maybe this will answer their question…
In January 2010, my writers’ group did this exercise: Each of us had a piece of paper that we passed to the next person after writing, in order, the following: The word “the” or “a,” an adjective, a noun, an adverb, a verb, a number, an adjective, a plural noun.
The sentence I ended up with was:
The huge dog brightly sees seventeen slender diamonds.
We were allowed to change a maximum of two words and use that as our opening sentence to a short story. I changed my sentence to “The huge dog reluctantly swallows seventeen slender diamonds.”
And here’s my story in two parts (the second part was homework for a follow-up group meeting). I have not touched it in over three years but I have to admit that when I re-read it just now, it made me laugh. I don’t know… Should I be writing mysteries? Comedies? Tragedies? 😀 I’d love to know what you think after you read this! (Even if you feel like throwing tomatoes at your screen.)
(“The Diamond-smuggling Dog” is only the title of this blog post. I am not convinced about it for this story.)
The huge dog reluctantly swallows seventeen slender diamonds. Her tail between her legs, still bruised from the last painful kick, she cowers under the ever-present threat of punishment for failing to obey her master. With each calculated gulp, she glances up, searching for approval. But she gets nothing for her troubles.
Sneering at the animal, Jonas suddenly winces and then tries to ignore the flash of self-doubt. The deafening taunts in his head have become frequent and unwelcome visitors. Ridiculous. He was Jonas Bader—even Ian Fleming could not have conjured up a more ingenious diamond smuggler.
“I’m in control,” he repeats to himself for the thousandth time. It doesn’t matter that the only creature he still seems to be able to instill fear in is this craven mutt. The others are all cowards, too. He’ll show them yet.
As the last shimmering gem disappears, Jonas reaches for his gear—his elaborate costume of sunglasses and cane laid out on the dingy kitchen table—warily keeping an eye on the dog lest she decide she can’t keep the diamonds down. The last thing he wants to do is pick through dog vomit to recover spewed-out precious stones.
So far so good. Mindy, the Great Dane his deceased sister left to his care, was more of a bother than anything else for the last seven months. Now the gentle giant is finally being useful. Jonas only hopes she is smarter than she looks. He winces again as three words cross his mind: “Yeah… Like you.”
Mindy whimpers softly and looks at Jonas expectantly. Or is that confusion on her face? Sadness? Pain? Indigestion? How is he supposed to know what she’s thinking? Confound it! “Who cares,” Jonas thinks, scolding himself for even the split-second impulse to be compassionate. “She’s just a stupid dog,” he says out loud. Then, looking right at Mindy, he hollers, “You’re just a dog… a dumb dog! Stop trying to distract me!”
Shoving the shades onto his face, Jonas sees the dog take a step back, guardedly, as one might slowly back away from a crazy person swinging a bag of tomatoes over his head. Did her eyebrows just go up? Do dogs have eyebrows? Jonas resists the urge to take a closer look, shakes his head, grabs the end of Mindy’s leash, and points his cane to the front door, waving it a little to show her where to go.
This was going to be a cinch.