The Beautiful Talkers
By, Andrew K. Smith
Jay and his wife Tara Palmer are happily married. Jay is an upbeat professional auctioneer downtown Seattle, Washington and he specialize in antiques. Tara also works in Seattle as a paralegal at Cohen P.L.L.C., while battling Gastroparesis, an abnormal burping disorder, where she burps upwards to 300 times a day. Anyhow they both constantly wake up and get that coffee buzz and then hop into a cannon infused with coffee and this propels them into the forever. In a lot of ways coffee is a placebo for their confidence that they use to tackle the briskly wet climate of the northwest.
The Palmers were very much in touch with their only child Sandy Palmer. Sandy is about to be a senior at Washington State University where he studies creative writing in the English department. Sandy has himself a girlfriend Hailey Hampshire, who is a junior currently studying business wine management. Summer went by at lighting speed and it was time for the Jay and Tara to drop off Sandy and Hailey at school for the upcoming fall semester. (Jay, Tara, Sandy, and Hailey. Okay, that’s 4 in 2 paragraphs. Let’s keep it simple, yo.)
In the morning the Palmer’s went to go pick up Hailey at the Hampshire residence. When they pulled in the driveway. Jay soared out of the brand new 2013 Land Rover to help Hailey with her bags.
“Hey,” Sandy screeched to Hailey. Then he grabbed her and picked her all the way up off the ground, smothering her with some love.
“Senior year is here. You know what you need, Sandy? You need to meet a nice girl,” said Hailey. But she is a girl. I don’t get it.
“A nice girl? Shit, I wouldn’t even know what to say to a nice girl at this point.”
Jay being the hyper auctioneer that he is, popped his head out of the sunroof, “Well, seeing as you’re about ten seconds away from sitting down in a long car ride with one, you better figure something out.”
Sandy and Hailey shake their heads and start making out in the driveway. Hailey’s mother lets this go on for five seconds and then she says, “Alright enough you two. I think you made your point.” (I’m dense or slow, cuz I don’t get the point.)
After they finish packing the car they head out to Pullman in pursuit of the Palouse. During the car ride, right of the bat, Jay says, “I worry about technology and its affects on people building relationships using it.”
“Dad, come on now, how can you say that?”
“I thought love was all about the process of finding things out about each other? If so? Then wouldn’t finding things out in a quick manner ruin what it is really about?” Jay said to Sandy. Sandy pauses for a moment to regroup his thoughts.
“I think everyone falls in love at a different speed. Sure, maybe in the twentieth century people fall in love at faster speeds, but does that really make it any more dangerous?”
“I’m no Dr. Phil, but it seems to me that the relationships that fail, fail due to the fact that a couple learns about each other in such a quick manner through various portals consisting of the online world, texting, et cetera, and don’t spread out the learning about each other. Then there is eventually nothing else left to learn about their soul mate.”
Haily hears this and butts in, “Your saying the learning curve for learning about your soulmate has a peak?”
Jay says, “To an extent, yes, yes it does.”Jay turns to Tara,“What’re your thoughts on this?”
Tara thinks for a moment and says, “Today we have all different varieties of portals available to learn about somebody. These new portals are going to replace the old ones your dad and I used when we fell in love. Soon the post office will be replaced and the good old-fashioned letter and stamp will become extinct. We are using the postal service to send each other material things instead of communicating.”
“ You make a great point about the structure of communication changing honey,” says Jay. Then he keeps at this discussion, “Still I think the communication structure changing leaves out important things, such as looking someone in the eyes, and body language which are crucial communication techniques.”
Meanwhile Sandy is getting furious.
“Stop the car dad! Now!”
Jay pulls over on the side of the road on Interstate 5 and Sandy gets out of the car and screams! Then he knocks on the window of the driver’s side of the Range Rover.
“Get out dad!”
Jay gets out of the car and tries to get his son to calm down. All while Tara and Hailey are inside the car and Tara turns to Hailey and grabs her hand. Hailey says, “I still like to think what Sandy and I are doing is good and at the end of the day it’s going to be okay.”
Tara nods her head. “Hey. I think you and Sandy together are cute. Always.”
“Thanks,” says Hailey in a silent whisper.
“I’m just hoping you two don’t forget to reflect and savor the moments you two enjoy together,” muffles Tara. (It’s pretty dialogue intensive. Give us some stage direction. What’s going on outside. Wind, cars zooming by, stuff blowing on the road. Give us some texture in addition to the dialogue. Some description. Let the landscape do some thematic work.
Temporarily outside Sandy bangs on the hood, “Escaping anticipation and silence when I look at my phone has nothing to do with this,” he shouts. Then Jay rebuttles,
“Look I don’t think escaping those awkward moments with your partner by looking at your phone is what’s making those feelings so good and real. In fact I think its only making you farther away from an intimate stand point.”
Sandy groans and he starts to cry, but Jay doesn’t stop he keeps on pushing,
“You and Hailey moving from one portal to the next without realizing the possible long-term affects. Short term it may seem that what you’re doing is fine, but its not!”
“Urgggggh,” Sandy grunts.
Jay keeps on pushing it even farther now: “At the same time you’re using these technologies to write your way into Hailey’s heart, and that is what scares me. This kind of shit is what has lead to the high divorce rate situation; and is why using technology to pursue your lover is so dangerous. Sure you’re not married yet, but say you do get married. Then what?”
Do you want white space here?
Back in the Car Tara has moved to the rear seat and Hailey is leaning up against Tara with her head on her shoulder. Tara is comforting Hailey and then she says, “Look I want to say something else. I know I’m not your parents, but I hope you can ad least listen. I’m sure at one point or another you have thought to yourself, ‘time’s going by way too fast’ or ‘school’s going by so quickly.’ Well sweetie, that’s because it is, Sandy and you are moving from one portal to the next without realizing the possible long-term affects.”
Tara pauses for a moment letting the words marinate into Hailey’s skull.
“So, the next time you think to yourself that time’s going by way to fast, that’s because it is, so you should do something about it, so you don’t die as fast. We are sucking the oil out of the ground and burning it as fast as we can to get each other places as quickly as possible. I’m even a victim of doing this, we all do, even Jay. Is this living life to the fullest? I’ll let you decide my dear!”
Hailey unhooks from Tara’s warm body and stares deep into Tara’s eyes, almost as if she is time traveling on a magic carpet through the universe and back.
“We our doomed,” Hailey remarks to Tara.
Need more differentiation in your characters. They are blurring together a bit for me. They need to have different mannerisms (or mannerisms at all), different tonal qualities, and some slight references to what they look like, wear, whatever.
Then Tara begins to have a flashback to when she and Jay were at college together at Washington State University in the late 1970’s and how the first time they met was during a wicked blizzard. She remembered that she was stuck at the bottom of a hill and couldn’t get up to her apartment, so she called Sears for someone to come put some chains on her car. Jay was working that evening at Sears during the snowmaggedon of a blizzard, he headed to go find Tara. Tara remembers him pulling in, and hopping out of his Red Honda Prelude in his blue Sears uniform, beanie on his head, snow boots, and warm gloves. He kindly gave her his gloves to keep her precious little hands warm while he hooked up the chains on her car.
Tara snaps back to reality and looks at Hailey and she is looking down at her iPhone 4s, texting. She hears Jay and Sandy arguing outside and then tears start to droop slowly from her retinas seeping downward melting on the bottom of her cheeks. Tim passes before she opens the door to see what’s going on. Hailey looks up, puts her phone in her pocket and hurries outside too.
“Dad you can be a real jerk face,” Sandy says to his dad in a mad voice. Then he takes off down the side of the road running as fast as he can, as if he is running for his life like Forrest Gump. Hailey chases after Sandy, “wait up,” she yells from behind. Tara then grabs Jay’s hand as both of them face the open road and watch Sandy and Hailey run as if they’re running into the future.
Then Jay flashes to the when Sandy was born. He remembers being inside the hospital, right beside Tara, as she lay on the hospital bed rocking her newborn baby back and forth. Then Sandy come out of his transcendent flashback and turns towards his wife looking her in the eyes and kisses her on the lips while synonymously whispering,
“I love you Tara.” She smiles. They kiss again. She backs down off of his perched lips and looks back at him and smiles again. Then he helps her up onto the hood of the vehicle and then he hops up there and sits with her. They both sit there on the hood of the Ranger Rover and Hailey and Jay are out of their distance. Jay says, “They’ll be back soon enough.”
Jay and Tara are still sitting on the hood of the car when his phone vibrates.
Jay pulls his iPhone 4s out of his right pocket and see’s it’s a text from his mother, which is something his mother rarely does, “Hey, tell Sandy I’ll miss him. Grandma never got the chance to say goodbye to her grandson ;)” Jay looks up, looks to his right at Tara, then looks forward at the open road, then looks back at Tara, then looks down at the text from his mother, then looks up at the sky.
At any rate, Hailey and Sandy are in the woods making love under an evergreen tree near a creek. Birds are perched on the branches of the trees watching them as they coil together as a single unit. When they are done they get dressed and lay down on the uncomfortable bark that lies beneath the tree. Sandy’s arm is hooked around Hailey’s head and their legs are twisted together. Both of them are looking up at the birds, smiling with utter satisfaction. Then Sandy says, “People who aren’t in love can’t make love like we just did, don’t you think?”
“Couldn’t agree more with you. I know how you like it when I bite your ears. You know how I like it when you scratch my back slowly with your nails. We understand each other.”
“You’re right my dad may have a point, but we defy the odds.”
Back at the car Jay pulls out a phone of his left pocket and waves it at Tara.
“I managed to snag Jay’s phone while we were quarreling.”
Tara laughs and pulls a phone out of her back pocket.
“I snagged Hailey’s phone when she passed me to chase after Sandy.”
They both giggled loudly for almost a minute until Jay says,
“How about we hold onto these phones here and take off to Pullman and let Sandy and Hailey find their way there?”
“You think that’s hazing? Actually who cares? Let’s do it to it. Make them lovebirds go on a adventure together with no technology, just like we would’ve had to do in the old days when we got stranded somewhere.”
They both smiled at each other and hopped of the hood of the Rover and got inside. Jay looked at her, she nodded, and then he turned on the ignition and pulled back onto the Interstate for Pullman. (I’m doubting they’d abandon them out here without their phones. How far from the town?)
Back in the woods Hailey and Jay were laughing about how this whole argument even happened. Then Jay helped her up and they set out in search of the Rover. As they were walking he saw a tree and grabbed his keys and wrote on the tree, ‘Sandy and Hailey Forever with a picture of a heart’ and then both of them made out for a little bit. Then they continued on back to find the Rover.
When they finally did arrive back at the car they realized it was gone and Sandy freaked out and ran in circles and was pointing at the ground.
“It was right here? What the fuck? Are they playing games with us?”
“Hold on Jay, I got my phone,” she grabs for her pocket.
“Wait hold on, never mind I don’t,” then she starts freaking out too.
Both of them were scrambling with fear and then decided that there was nothing else to do but hitchhike to the next town and try to borrow someone’s cell phone along the way. Sandy and Hailey eventually found a ride from two frat brothers that were heading up for the fall semester as well, and offered to take them if they wanted a ride. Turns out the frat guy Nick who was the driver was a fast driver. He was driving a brand new, fresh off the lot, 2013 mustang convertible, and he so far averaging 90mph to 100mph on the roads. This allowed Hailey and Sandy to close in on Jay and Tara.
Eventually they saw them up ahead and Sandy pointed, “That’s my parents! Look!” Sandy rolled down the window in the back seat and flicked them off.
Jay and Tara see him flip them off and they giggled.
Anyhow, this age of life is one of the most unreal, profound, exhilarating experiences we can give way to. We begin to spark an upbeat feeling in our blood stream that connects with our heart and creates this oscillation of unattainable bliss. Then we gradually begin to free-fall into a trance that lasts enough to repeat it day after day. Pushing us forward into a transcendental empire of lavish romance that we time and time again suckle on. This is what we the people of the globe pursue and we miss judge the badness of it, because we spill into a pattern of what we think is right. We allow ourselves to peak inside each other’s thoughts and touch the ringing in our loins that creates bonds that last a lifetime. This narration feels sort of tagged on. I think Jay needs to say this, or one of the characters, anyway. But the narrator has heretofore been sort of out of the picture, not commenting much. Now it feels like a moral, or observations that are a bit forced.
Life is on a whole different wavelength in the 20th century, with tons of synthetic romance in the airwaves. We unintentionally seep words outside the skulls of each other forcing each other to mix with our surroundings. This is what makes people jiggle horizontally and diagonally against each other and touch the genius in each and every one of us.
Jay and Tara continued on the sunny pavement on the superhighway into the velvet dusk to a cracker box town where their love originated.
All love is mostly thoughts; during the honeymoon stage there is an abundance of thoughts and less when one’s married for years. Still being married one can draw on older thoughts, which have the same value as a series of young thoughts.
Then Jay says his last words like he always does, “Tara you’re a beautiful talker!”
She burped back. (The burp should be integrated into her dialogue and not just resurface here. It’s been too long since it was mentioned in the first few paragraphs.)
Good connection to Carver—good initial draft with plenty to work on. You should study format with dialogue—you are doing some creative mid-line breaks/paragraphs.
I’d like more differentiation among your characters. This is one of the harder things to do but it pays great dividends down the road. You also will want to add natural (not overdone, but just enough) stage direction coming from your narrator. Last, and I’ll ask the class about this—I’m wondering if this narrative voice is the most appropriate for the story. See Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants to see what a very limited omniscient narrator looks like (you can find it full text online).
I like what you are doing here thematically, playing with the idea that technology has altered courtship and even levels of love. Like the portal notion.
To differentiate, you could have parents talk more about how they used to correspond (without technology).