One of the things I like the most when reading (and find the least) is when the writer surprises me. Most genre novels are fairly predictable. In fact, I’m guessing most of you, like me, often play the game when watching movies of guessing how the story will end. Someone wrote it, so of course, I always wonder if I could have found a better plot and ending.

So let’s get some practice surprising each other. I’m going to write an opening paragraph to a story. Your challenge is to write the next paragraph (and the next, and so on) but to take the early suggestion of plot in a direction we least expect. One each would make this fun. Dive in!

Clemson (“Slow Eye”) Bathingas had no time for poor service in his line of work. When he sat down in a restaurant, he expected the waiter to appear at his right arm within thirty seconds. That was their job. His line of work was more in a freelance vein. Restaurant les Chateau had become Clemson’s latest spot for a relaxing evening and a good meal. They fawned on him there, knowing how well he tipped when the food matched the service. Tonight he sat in his favorite booth near the rear, facing the door, patting his mouth with a damask napkin after the perfect crème brulee. He’d just begun a pleasant debate with himself over coffee versus cognac, when Darnella Shonwunder appeared in the doorway, looking panicked.

18 responses to “Surprises

  1. Hmmm… Okay, but I wasn’t finished at the previous prompt so I channeled Jerome K. Jerome and left something there.

    • Feeling restless…. My apologies.

      • The holidays will do that, won’t they. No need to apologize. My muse was stuck on that last prompt.

      • I, on the other hand, am grateful for this new prompt. I was feeling quite inept after the postings for the last one. This is something I’m willing to attempt. I took the liberty of adding several paragraphs for the sake of dialogue. I hope that’s okay.

  2. Darnella was the last person he expected to see, and never cared to see her again. He had one date with her, and after that date, decided that she was crazy and delusional, and believed she was stalking him. Slow Eye thought that this would be the one place that she would never find him. He took great pains not to reveal his favorite restaurants. This was his corner of the world, and she was invading it like the Saxons invaded Normandy. He wouldn’t, no, couldn’t stand for this.

  3. Stuart Covington IV was a fifth generation Covington to hold the honored post of head waiter at Restaurant Les Chateau. As such, he knew trouble when he saw it and this time he saw it in the disheveled woman standing in the doorway. He carefully set down the coveted bottle of CAVU Cellars 2008 Malbec, slipped his hand into his vest pocket, and wrapped his fingers around his wine opener. Covington palmed the opener and moved his hand over the front of his cummerbund. Just before he slipped it behind the satin material, Covington touched a tiny spring-loaded lever and heard a quiet, satisfying click. Then he moved towards the woman who, he noted, had honed in on Clemson Bathingas with a look that could kill. My kind of woman, thought Covington

  4. Darnella tromped toward Slow Eye and threw her palm at his cheek. He deflected her arm and with a flick of his wrist and a twist of her arm he man-handled her into a prone position on the floor. Darnella struggled to right herself but each attempt caused a shooting pain through the arm held by Slow Eye, “How manly of you, you bastard. Let me go or I’ll scream rape.”

    Wide-eyed Covington strode toward them, “Mr. Bathingas, is there a problem?”

    Slow Eye yanked Darnella off the floor. She yelped. “Of course, you idiot. This woman is crazy. Get her out of here and I expect her to be banned from this restaurant.”

    Covington heard of Slow Eye’s questionable freelance line of work. He took Darnella by the arm and asked Slow Eye, “Right away, Mr. Bathingas. Should I call the police? Would you like to press charges?”

  5. He thought back to only a year ago, when he and this long-legged, beautiful woman ended their affair. Bathingas decided that it was best not to press charges. It was no small endeavor to end the relationship without his wife’s knowledge. Darnella had attempted to contact his wife in an attempt to blackmail him, but was fortunate to run interference when the phone calls were made. But Mrs. Bathingas was much sharper than her husband gave her credit for. She suspected something was going on when she found a long, blonde hair hanging from one of The Mister’s suits that she was taking in for dry cleaning.

  6. Well, don’t just stand there lollygagging, man,” barked Bathingas as he held Darnella in a half nelson. “Do something!”

    Covington knelt beside Bathingas, using his upper body to shield his right hand from Bathingsas and the other diners. He withdrew the wine opener from his cummerbund and palmed it. Covington said, “I’ll take her, sir.”

    He slid his right hand under Darnella’s shoulder and felt her wince as the wine opener pierced her skin. She looked Covington, searching for a message. All she saw was a slight shake of his head and then everything went out of focus.

    “Shall I summon the constables?” said Bathingas.

    “No need, sir,” replied Covington. “An ambulance would be best.”

    “What? Why?”

    “The lady will no longer be a problem for you. I do believe you’ve killed her, sir.”

  7. “Do you Know what you have done to me? I will have you know I prepare and serve the tastiest freshly baked buttery croissants in town. How could you print that article?” She raged with eyes burning fire into his brain.

    “Miss, you simply take things too personally. I would think that just having your cafe in the papers would delight you. It is good to see you here, but I must insist you lower your voice. Please join me in a cognac, will you? and we will settle this tonight”

    Darnella stiffened, anger still burning inside her at the outrageous words he had put in black and white. She also quickly turned the thoughts in her head to what he had spoken. Yes, he had a point. Advertising was good, and her customers were complimenting her even more so after the newspaper came out this morning, Even they were appalled to read his unfortunate remarks.

    “Well, I never….oh fine. What could you possibly say to fix how I feel about your low-life stunt?” she exhaled and breathed deeply and took the seat he proffered for her. Darnella fidgeted while he poured the excellent cognac.

    “You see my dear,…please have a sip…Your mother never told you about your father, and I am here to see that be remedied.” He calmly replied.

  8. “Annnd CUT, Print Act 2, Scene 2,” cried the director, Craig Spellbound, “Wrap it up for today and get me that writer, I need to know what is coming next. I hate surprises and twists, I need direction if I’m going to direct. Ok people, lets come prepared tomorrow, you’re off the clock so get out of here. Where is that writer, what do I have to do to get a writer around here? Grow some pencils? Light some candles? Come on people, get me a writer, someone who will just free write, who will kill off these John and Martha characters. People, People, where’d did everyone go?”

  9. Chloe still hadn’t learned to pick up on his mood swings. She sidled up to Spellbound and placed her mouth close to his ear, “How was I?” After being ignored for several seconds she took a step back, placed her hands on her hips and said, “Well?

    Without looking up from his notes and raising an eyebrow, “Was that you or Darnella improvising again?”

    She pursed her lips, let out a heavy breath and stormed off.

    He, supposedly, hired her because she was a talented actress that showed a wide range of emotions. She had excellent range of motion but as far as he could tell that was her only talent. The last time they were together she professed to be head over heels for him but her heels over his head were the only thing he could tolerate from Chloe at this point. Her lack of talent in other areas led to being $500K over budget, two weeks late on production deadlines and short a producer who quit within the first week due to personality conflicts.

  10. Off in the corner of the studio a traffic cop perched on a stool, opening and shutting his umbrella in tune to Lady Gaga singing Pokerface on the radio. Whoosh, thwack, whoosh, thwack. He stopped finally. Too much of a good thing. He pulled out a pencil and a small notebook to check off Assignment 5. He kept writing: “A huge crack suddenly appeared in the floor of the studio. Craig Spellbound fell in first, then Darnella, followed by Stuart Covington IV and finally Chloe, screaming her head off.”

    Bathingas looked up, relieved. “Thanks. I needed that.” And they walked out into the sunshine together.

  11. That whole story turned out amazing.
    -Patsy Watsy

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