Robert Burns once wrote, “The best laid schemes of mice and men / Go often awry, / And leave us nothing but grief and pain, / For promised joy!” I thought of this stanza often during the course of this last month. Before the month started I had the idea that I would attempt to write one story every day, give or take. At the end of the month I found myself with one complete story and one partially completed stories and a lot of days during which I did not get any new writing done but I did edit one of the two stories.
At the beginning of the month, on August first, I started writing the first story while standing on the train going home. I didn’t finish writing it however I figured that I would continue writing it when I got home and then start brainstorming for the following day. Instead, I got home and started taking care of home needs and soon it was time for bed.
The following day, I started writing a new story based on something a coworker of mine said. Instead of starting new stories every day, I kept on going back to that one. By the fifteenth of the month, that story was finished and I went back to the first one. I am still working on it. Before we continue with my woeful tale of how I failed this experiment, allow me to present the second story, which is most likely in need of editing — I am happy with how far it has come thus-far, however.
He sat on the floor of his yet to be furnished studio apartment and considered whether pork fried rice had really been the best idea for the evening, all dinner options considered. Sergei was the great grandson of Rabbi Herman Wolkoff, who had calmly said the twice daily Shema prayer as he and multitudes surrounding him were overwhelmed with noxious poisonous gas in what had appeared to be a bathhouse in the concentration camp in Auschwitz. Now in 2012 his great grandson spat upon the religion of his forefathers and ate what not even his late father would have considered eating — that is, before going out and sleeping with one of his English students. He was sure his mother had always been aware of his father coming home smelling of perfume and the sweat of two or three people who pawed one another as a cat plays with a catnip toy. She simply chose to say nothing about it for the sake of shalom bayis — peace in the home.
His eyes wandered the room and he imagined a blueprint of the room and where he wanted to put the few pieces of furniture he owned.
It had been a long process, getting this apartment. From his mother’s rich estate in Kew Gardens to his college dormitory to here took more years than he preferred to admit. At first his mother didn’t want him living away from home while he didn’t have what she called a serious job but it wasn’t long before she realized that her dreams of Sergei the doctor or Sergei the lawyer or even Sergei the Talmudic scholar were not going to happen and that she would have to live with Sergei the Secretary that did Open Microphone Stand Up Comedy and Occasionally Acted in One Man Performances. Certainly more words for a title than she preferred.
Deirdre, Sergei’s girlfriend of five years called but he missed the call as the phone was tucked in his pocket quietly. He noticed the call as he looked at the phone to check the time. Who even had a watch anymore, he wondered.
Sergei had met Deirdre one evening as he waited in line to buy a ticket to a Fellini film marathon at New York University. She was standing directly in front of him in line and, as such, had her curly black hair only a few inches from his face — their height difference and the crowd practically placed her hair in his nose. He asked her what sort of shampoo she used as it had a Proustian effect on him and he thought back to YMHA and showering with a bunch of kids his age after playing basketball and kayaking and having fun throwing mud at one another. She said it was a standard Head and Shoulders and he distinctly remember one of the boys using that oddly blue stuff as though it were going out of style. The smell permeated even his underarms somehow such that the pretend flatulence he trumpeted with arm and hand blasted that smell as well.
The phone rang again as he looked at the time. It was Deirdre. Someone knocked at the door. “You’re very clever,” he said, “Calling me as you stand in front of my door.” He started opening the door and quickly realized that it was not Deirdre standing there but rather three individuals wearing dark blue jeans and white tank tops. The masks they wore could not conceal the fact that one of them was definitely a woman, or a man who had taken a liking to wearing a bra with raw chicken cutlets stuffed inside it. The woman / fan of cutlets grabbed the phone out of Sergei’s hand and threw it to the ground, then quickly took his hand and held it behind his back.
The other two rushed into the apartment and started looking around, only to stop looking just as quickly. The woman spoke. “Man, did you just get robbed or were you the person that just got done robbing this place and decided to stick around for a victory…” She inhaled deeply. “…plate of pork fried rice?”
Sergei was not given the opportunity to respond as she pushed him to the ground. “Boys, see if our man here has any cash on him. I’m sure he couldn’t have given the whole load to the delivery person.”
Sergei put up one hand and said, “Wait.” He took his wallet out of his back pocket and handed it to one of the men that was now on either side of him. Said man started counting wallet and was just about done when five gun toting police officers and one gunless Deirdre stormed into the apartment. Deirdre was not storming as much as she was casually strolling. Within a couple of minutes, the three masked assailants were unmasked and being handcuffed against Sergei’s living room wall.
“Fortunately for you, Sergei’s phone is just about old enough that it takes a bit more than a hard knock to the ground to break it — or even disconnect the call. I also happened to be with my friend Rochelle here, who is a precinct Sergeant. I think some Miranda reading is in order, yes?”
Indeed it was. Soon Sergei and Deirdre were alone and kissing. “Do I not get a thank you for saving you from a savage beating?”
“I was extra grateful in that kiss just now. Be fair. I could have taken at least one of them down before the other two would have overpowered me and beaten me senseless.
She conceded the point and gave him another kiss, and they started clearing up the mess of food that had been left behind by what could have been a fairly gruesome brawl.
I do not particularly like it when I attempt to do something and fail, and so I would like to inform you of the following information — I am going to attempt to do this experiment a second time, in the month of October. I will not try to do this in September due to the abundance of Jewish holidays that take place, during which time I will not be able to write. There are holidays in October as well but I think I will be able to get more writing done in October for this experiment than I did in August.
I plan on accomplishing this by making one simple requirement — I will not allow myself to edit any previous story unless I start a new story and get at least five hundred words into it. I think that this will be the minimum that it will take to get a good number of stories written for the October experiment.
Will the experiment be a success next time? I will let you know at the end of October!