Random Thoughts on NaNoWriMo, Day 03

Jumble of Creativity

Word count stands at 6192.

And I feel bushed. And I feel satisfied. Enough creativity for one day.

No *extended* excerpt today, mostly just reflections.

I confess that this morning I once again wasted a bit of precious writing time with reading an article written by Laura Miller for salon.com.

I could not resist. Well, I didn’t want to resist; because Laura’s article was a diatribe concerning the reasons a writer, a real writer, should *not* participate in NaNoWriMo.

Waste of time.

For amateurs.

Crappy first drafts ain’t worthy of the literary landscape they seek to occupy.

My tail feathers trembled. My neck hairs bristled.

And my sense of guilt haunted me.

Yep, I’ve been a gruesome naysayer where NaNoWriMo is concerned. Cheesus, the last couple of years I refused to shut the hey up and let people enjoy themselves.

I sounded then much like Laura Miller sounded this morning.

And my true reasons for pooping on the parade? Lack of self-confidence. Envy. Refusal to take risks.

I’m sorry. Bless me Father. Now I’m gonna exit this confession booth and get back to work.

I’m no longer filled with envy, except where Mr. Gene Chamber’s NaNoWriMo project is concerned. Have you read his excerpts? He’s damned good. And he had the nerve to threaten to quit the effort before he began? Dammit, Gene. Stop writing so well, for my sake. Please. Or else I’m coming to Tucson with the boys.

Meanwhile, I left my protagonist, Wallace Tarlow, gumshoe, at a Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge in Weston, West Virginia, having spent the previous night at a cheap motel in Hagerstown, Maryland. He’s on his way to Jasper, Indiana in the Year of Our Lord 1958, where he hopes to find LunaMae’s overbearing Ma and paralyzed preacher of a Pop. Tarlow’s crackin’ wise and he’s trying unsuccessfully to be funny, in spite of the fact that I insisted that he jam his butt into serious second gear. I, the not-so-famous author, feel embarrassed by my output today. But embarrassment won’t stop me, and neither will Laura Miller (or even the talented Mr. Ly Chambers).

The Walt Whitman bridge into Philly looked the same chalky shade of blue as the wintertime sky. He crossed without incident, enjoying the buzzing sound as the Ford rattled its way over the center metal grating. Continuing south on Route 40, into Delaware, he pulled in just once, to pick up a cheap bottle of booze at Lew’s Liquor Establishment. Back on the road after two hot swigs, Tarlow felt almost alive again, alive enough to see his way north of Baltimore, Maryland and then make the push into the dusty burg of Hagerstown.

The Oglethorpe Motel was the first he encountered, and since he was feeling more tired than particular, and since the joint looked run down enough to own reasonable rates, he eased the car into the parking lot.

The man at the front desk had the same pale, clammy and pockmarked face that all motel clerks in black-and-white film noir flicks wore.

“Want a room for just the night, or you plannin’ on stayin’ with us longer, mister?”

“Wouldn’t dream of inconveniencing you for longer than I have to. How much?”

“Does it matter?”

“No, come to think of it, no.”

“Then just slip me four bucks and we’ll call it even.”

Tarlow slid the cash across the counter, and the pockmarked creep grabbed it in exchange for a rusty key.

“Key’s filthy, but then so’s the room. They both look to fit your personality.”

“You don’t know me, mug, so clamp your cave and I’ll see you in the morning. Better yet, I’ll make this the last time you see me, so grab a gander while you can. And if anyone else comes in asking for Tarlow, say you don’t know no Tarlow.”

“What about your dirty Ford? You don’t think the jugheads who are chasing you will notice that it’s the only dead car in the lot?”

“I’ll pull it around back. By the way, ugly little man, you hooked up with a wife?”

“What’s a wife gonna do with a creep like me?”

“I’m not a mind practitioner.”

“Big word, that.”

“Got a big dictionary.”

“You can’t be that desperate for fame.”

“You’re right about that, creep. I’m saving myself for LunaMae, which is another name you should claim ignorance of ever hearing should anyone ask you. Got it?”

“You know anymore the caliber of LunaMae? She sounds delicious.”

“You’re just hungry, maybe starving.”

“We’re all born with appetites, brother?”

“I ain’t no one’s brother, brother. Gimme the frigging key.”

The room clerk, foul-mouthed cretin that he was, was an honest man. The room was musty, stained, gray and otherwise dingy and depressing. The bedsheets stank of perspiration and indiscriminate sex. The windows owned prison bars instead of curtains. A murky print of an oil painting depicted an Indian tribe being slaughtered by American cavalry troops, who in turn were being scalped by noble savages, hung crooked beside the dresser’s muddy mirror.

Tarlow tossed a bathroom towel on the room’s one stuffed chair and fell asleep.

Sometime later, how much time he never would know, a knock at the door startled Tarlow back awake. He stumbled his way across the room, grabbed, twisted and pulled the knob.

“You’re Tarlow. What’d my boys back in AC tellya?”

The punch to his gut came as no surprise to a private dick whose office door held a pane of pebbled glass lettered with black, flaked paint. He fell backward and banged his head against the motel room’s dank and moldy wall, which caused the Indian painting to fall away and onto him.

“Who the hell are you?” asked Tarlow.

“Carl. Leave my mother out of this, or next time I’ll kill you.”

“You haven’t the steely nerves necessary for killing anyone, little man. You probably borrow your underwear from your sister.”

“Well, that may well be the case, seeing as how I’m a disgusting drunk who doesn’t own a weapon other than his now-sore fist. But LunaMae’s my courageous sis, and she’s a real bitch, buster, bucko, fucko private eye. So just watch where you’re slapping those gummy shoes of
yours, or else.”

Tarlow didn’t bother with trying to mutter the “or else what” line, because he already knew the answer to that question.

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