Rough Drift

"Small" writing challenges for my small writing talent. Hotel note pads are the only space allowed. Let's see if I can strip it down and tighten it up to learn something. Improving my skill of weird fiction.

5.) Breakthrough Act


“A duck walks into a bar. The bartender yells, …” Ben threw his pen on the wobbly table. It’s four in the morning with nothing decent on the paper. He rubbed his eyes, knowing he had to come up with something new, slight panic was setting in. He felt his small collection of fans were expecting more of what drove them crazy.

Ben saw a big television premier coming his way tonight and the old drivel had to go. Cursings, female and male genitalia, government innuendos, although all are lightly regulated on the local stages, they are highly incorrect on television. Men with party-badge-stitched grey suites produce all network shows, live with thirty minute delays. Ben prayed to The Leader for a single chance to achieve the dream-honorable class-level approval for his family.

He sat in worry until a solid knock at a door, locked from the outside, signaled an envelope sliding under. Ben ran over and picked it up off the dirty concrete, dutifully calling out appreciation for the attention of The Leader’s men.

Tearing the letter free he held it near the single hanging light bulb. It read: This is tonight’s approved selection of humorous material. Please do not stray off task. The leader will be watching tonight. You will praise his glory.

Ben read the list, muttering to himself the punchlines. He thought all of it was terrible but it wasn’t close to good. He made his decision and picked up his pen. Fans be damned. At stake was his family future. They could soon, for the first time, be eating…steak.

(Author’s notes) Cedar Rapids, Iowa: August 10th, 2015.

I woke up in a hotel bed, again, thinking about what to write. The notepad sat on the nightstand and I could only think of the comedian Patton Oswald and his bit on a bad horror movie, “Death bed: the bed that eats people” and thought about a bed where people die. I also thought that wasn’t good at all, not the bit on the bed but the concept to write about. Comedians have to slave away coming up with material. That’s what triggered this concept. A comedian slaving over new material. Who would provide the material if he couldn’t? What if comedians delivered other material that wasn’t their own but subconsciously subversive? What purpose? It took off from there. I wrote the part of working late and getting the big break but the rest just flowed in and I went with it. Of course, getting it to fit took a few tries because I knew that I took up too much space here or there with accidentally printing large or crooked. I also got to revise slightly along the way and that helped shape the atmosphere of working conditions and the big why.

EDIT: revision Feb.10, 2016

Took out lots of technical sounding narration and introduced the phrases of ‘He thought this’ or ‘He knew that’ instead of Ben did or He did not….He or Ben has to feel or think things, not just be there in the scene.


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This entry was posted on August 11, 2015 by in comedy, near-future and tagged , , , .
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