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DATo
June 13th, 2016, 03:27 AM
Lonely People

by

DATo

The red, double-decker bus threaded its way slowly down damp streets through the cold, early morning, English mist and fog. A young man stood at door as the bus coasted to a stop.

“Where ye off to with them flowers this time o’mornin mate?” asked the driver, as the bus hissed to a stop.

“Off to see me girl. Her birthday. Gonna make a day of it.”

“Well, she picked a right fine day to be born. Try not to get too wet.”

“I’ll do me best.”

As he stepped off the bus he heard behind him, “An give ‘er a peck on the cheek from me too will ye?” Followed by the sounds of a hearty laugh and the release of hissing brakes.

The youth began the remaining four block trek along a street bordered by an old cemetery. He stopped. Barely visible through the mist he could see several figures in the cemetery. A tall woman in a long dress ... no, it was a man, a priest, ... throwing something into an open grave. The man then pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, wiped his hands and then nodded. Two other men began shoveling dirt into the hole. The youth continued to watch as as the two men completed their task, touched the brims of their hats, and then left the priest alone retuning to their lorry.

The youth continued to watch the old priest for a minute and then took several steps in the direction of his appointed meeting with his girlfriend before his footsteps were arrested by a compulsion he could not ignore. Surprised by his own bravura he made his way slowly to the man in the black robe. The priest did not see him approaching.

“Hello Father.” said the boy.

At once the surprised priest’s face burst into a radiant smile.

“And hello to you too! You’ve come to pay your respects to my departed parishioner?”

“Well, no Father. Oh, I see, the flowers. No, they’re for my girlfriend. Her birthday today you see. I just saw you standing here all alone and thought, well, maybe you’d like some company.”

“How old are you young man?” asked the priest.

“Fifteen Father, sixteen in three months.” replied the youth.

“I’ve come to not expect such consideration from members of your generation. It seems you are an exception. I thank you for the kindness of your company. Your presence is indeed welcome.”

“The person who died, was it a relative? Oh, yes, ‘parishioner’, you said.”

“She was more than just a parishioner. She was also a dear friend, and if truth be told, my only friend. She was just a wee slip of a woman, old and infirm, but her visits for tea would brighten my day. We enjoyed each other’s company and conversation.”

“I’m sorry for your loss then Father.”

“Aye, as I am. There were three of us once. We’d meet on Wednesdays for a few hands of cards and took tea together. When Sophie died three years ago it became just the two of us, and now only me. Sophie’s death prompted my friend to buy this cemetery plot and that wee headstone you see there in advance with the savings from her pension money. As you can see there is no one else to bury her but me. I suppose each of us was all alone in this world except for each other.

“She wasn’t alone Father. You’re here with her.” said the youth.

The priest smiled a lonely smile and then said, “I don’t want to keep you from your date with your girl. There’s nothing left for me to do here. Shall we go?”

The two of them began walking toward the gate of the cemetery when the young man said, “Excuse me a minute Father.” He then bolted toward the grave and left the flowers he had bought for his girlfriend before the tiny headstone. He then jogged back to the priest who was once again smiling broadly.

“That was nice of you boy, but what will your girlfriend say when you arrive empty handed?”

“I’ll tell her what I did with them and why. She’ll understand Father. She’s made of the right stuff.” said the youth.

“And so are you young man. And so are you.” replied the priest. “She was a fine woman - a great heart. You know, the sad part is that no one else knew her. She was the type of person who should have been famous. Would you do an old man a favor, boy? Will you remember us in your prayers?”

“I will. I give you my word, I will.” said the youth.

The young man extended his hand, “By the way my name is Paul.”

“Pleased to meet you Paul. They call me Father Mac.” said the priest.

The two men parted, walking in opposite directions, silhouetted against the backdrop of a grey and lonely cemetery in the midsts of which an observant passer-by might notice a vibrant splash of color illuminating and gracing a tiny headstone engraved with the name, Eleanor Rigby.

LeeC
June 13th, 2016, 04:22 AM
A nice little poignant piece, with the ending twist being recognition of the possible idea for it. I also liked that you gave it more depth than a straight take on that idea might.


To me, the writing flowed well, with only minor thoughts of how it could be tightened up. I'm not much at P&G, nor do I have an ear for Liverpool speech, so hopefully others will help with anything they might see.


Nice read, thank you.

escorial
June 13th, 2016, 07:40 AM
you can't beat a good graveside story..cool man

Shirl the Whirl
June 14th, 2016, 09:15 PM
Lovely story, simply told, with a thought provoking ending. I found this very touching, thank you.

DATo
June 29th, 2016, 09:41 AM
Thanks so much for your responses guys, and I apologize for taking so long to reply.

I'd love to know the story behind the real inspiration for the song, if there is one.

Bard_Daniel
July 2nd, 2016, 05:30 PM
This was a wonderful and touching story, DATo. I really enjoyed it. Great work!

DATo
July 10th, 2016, 01:13 AM
Thank you danielstj. Though I am a relatively new member here I have already learned to value your opinions. Your generous comment means a lot to me.

PrinzeCharming
July 10th, 2016, 03:22 AM
Hey, how are you?

I am intrigued to read your story. Perhaps, I felt lonely enough to see if it applied. The title is intriguing. There's a vibe of emptiness and distance away from society. While adding, "people," there's a connection to inner feelings and self-awareness.



The red, double-decker bus threaded its way slowly down damp streets through the cold, early morning, English mist and fog. A young man stood at door as the bus coasted to a stop.

This is an intriguing cultural introduction. Since I already know, through education, about double-deckers, I already envisioned the setting. I think you meant, "stood at the door." Overall, nice imagery. This attracts the reader into something foreign if they aren't already accustomed to this form of public transportation.


“Where ye off to with them flowers this time o’mornin mate?” asked the driver, as the bus hissed to a stop.

I admire the tone and voice. The character's accent lingers. The flowers is a nice touch. A potential foreshadowing event for sentimental value with another character.


“Off to see me girl. Her birthday. Gonna make a day of it.”

And there it is! The beauty behind how I critique is to critique as I go. I want you, the writer, to see how I perceive your story word for word. This, at this very moment, is the reason. You connected me to something coming. I was ready when you delivered. There was enough clarity to follow and embrace the moment when it finally arrived.


“Well, she picked a right fine day to be born. Try not to get too wet.”

This adds to the sense of humour and overall English ambiance. Nice touch.


As he stepped off the bus he heard behind him, “An give ‘er a peck on the cheek from me too will ye?” Followed by the sounds of a hearty laugh and the release of hissing brakes.

Ah, don't ye' be cheeky, now! I like that. I wouldn't have expected anything different.


The youth began the remaining four block trek along a street bordered by an old cemetery. He stopped. Barely visible through the mist he could see several figures in the cemetery. A tall woman in a long dress ... no, it was a man, a priest, ... throwing something into an open grave. The man then pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, wiped his hands and then nodded. Two other men began shoveling dirt into the hole. The youth continued to watch as as the two men completed their task, touched the brims of their hats, and then left the priest alone retuning to their lorry.

Ah, the beauty of British language and culture. It shines through with your narration. I admire the imagery.


The youth continued to watch the old priest for a minute and then took several steps in the direction of his appointed meeting with his girlfriend before his footsteps were arrested by a compulsion he could not ignore.

Woah, this is long. Try to be more concise here.

Here are my famous LM writing challenge, "Breakdown Bullets."

Let's break this down.

1. The youth
2. continued to watched
3. the old priest
4. for a minute (does a minute matter? two minutes? two and a half?)
5. and then took several steps
6. in the direction of toward his appointed meeting
7. with his girlfriend.
8. before his footsteps were arrested
9. by a compulsion he could not ignore.

Omit the strikes. Keep the blue. I added the red.

Final suggested sentence:

"The youth watched the old priest and then took several steps toward his girlfriend."



“Hello Father.” said the boy.

Try a different dialogue approach. If not, make sure to use commas.

Ex.

"Hello Father," said the boy.

Or ...

The boy hesitated. "Hello Father."


At once the surprised priest’s face burst into a radiant smile.

Aw, that's warm. Nice imagery.


“And hello to you too! You’ve come to pay your respects to my departed parishioner?”

I like the sentimental religious touch to this. Nice job.


“Well, no Father. Oh, I see, the flowers. No, they’re for my girlfriend. Her birthday today you see. I just saw you standing here all alone and thought, well, maybe you’d like some company.”

That's a nice gesture.


“How old are you young man?” asked the priest.

Good question. I was curious myself.


“Fifteen, Father, sixteen in three months.” replied the youth.

Make sure to use a comma here. I marked it in red. The narration for the dialogue isn't needed. We know who's talking.


“She wasn’t alone Father. You’re here with her.” said the youth.

Again, don't bother with this. There's only him and the priest talking.



The two of them began walking toward the gate of the cemetery when the young man said, “Excuse me a minute, Father.” He then bolted toward the grave and left the flowers he had bought for his girlfriend before the tiny headstone. He then jogged back to the priest who was once again smiling broadly.


“I’ll tell her what I did with them and why. She’ll understand, Father. She’s made of the right stuff.” said the youth.


“And so are you young man. And so are you.” replied the priest. “She was a fine woman - a great heart. You know, the sad part is that no one else knew her. She was the type of person who should have been famous. Would you do an old man a favor, boy? Will you remember us in your prayers?”


“I will. I give you my word, I will.” said the youth.


The young man extended his hand, “By the way, my name is Paul.”


“Pleased to meet you Paul. They call me Father Mac.” said the priest.


I love the character development. The girlfriend is mysterious because she is waiting in the background. I admire the linguistic and cultural vibes to this. I love the sentimental touches throughout this piece. You can omit the, "he said," narration. The dialogue is understandable without it. This takes a lot away from the story. In the end, it's also clear that the priest said that he was called Father Mac. Clearly, who else would be saying that? Silly. Overall, I enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing.

DATo
July 10th, 2016, 10:42 AM
PrinzeCharming,

Thank you SO much for the detailed critique. I take all thoughtful comments, both positive and negative, seriously in an attempt to learn what I am doing right and what needs improvement and I find myself agreeing with you on almost every point. Yes, the word "the" was missing in the second sentence. I have corrected the omission. I am extremely grateful for the time you have taken to read and critique my story in detail. I have no patience with people who criticize on the basis of their own peculiar inclinations and those who nitpick the small points, but your corrections are entirely appropriate, and welcomed. I admit that there were times when I sacrificed brevity for style in an attempt to maintain the voice of the piece.

Once again, many thanks! [:- )

ned
July 18th, 2016, 02:10 AM
hello - nice story, but set in England? - the accents are more like Dick Van Dyke wearing a kilt!
- and I'm cringing.

fog or mist - but, not both - damp and foggy, yes cliche England, but other weather has been known.

four blocks to his girlfriend's? - we don't do blocks in blighty, our streets being altogether more organic....
and yes, it matters.

but otherwise, a well written and engaging story.

got me thinking of writing a story about Americans - where everyone says 'Yee Haa!'

cheers......Ned

DATo
July 18th, 2016, 12:27 PM
Many thanks ned! Well, what can I say? I'm a Yank who has never had the privilege of visiting England though I would greatly like to. I did the best I could but I confess that using the word "blocks" to describe the remainder of Paul's walk to his girlfriend's house left me quite uncertain, but I didn't know how else to describe it. Actually this story would be taking place in Scotland thus my use of the words "wee" and "aye". Again, I do not have enough background to present some aspects of this story accurately. Thanks for your criticism on these points. Could you be so kind to tell me the English equivalent of "blocks"? Also, I'm sure you could instruct me on a more proper phrasing of the dialogue. I would be very grateful if you could provide an example of how these verbal exchanges should be presented.

Once again, many thanks!

ned
July 18th, 2016, 10:28 PM
hello - glad you took my comments on the accent seriously -

but I'm a bit confused- the opening of the story mentions English mist - and now you say it is set in Scotland?
but don't ask me about the Scots - I'm British, and I can barely understand them.
for reference try clips of 'trainspotters' and TV series' Rab C Nesbitt and Para Handy - yer neigh wha' I mean?

besides the accent - the bus coversation sounds unnatural to me - too open and lamely scripted
we are more tight-lipped with strangers - unless the ice is broken with an oblique or cheeky joke -
for example - a middle-aged female driver spotting the flowers might say, 'ooh, are those for me duck?'
he turns red at the thought of it and gives a sheepish grin. she continues 'ahh, for yer sweetheart eh?'
he mumbles 'yes', quickly grabs his ticket and scurries to his seat - she calls out 'lucky girl!'
English humour and embarrassment in a couple of lines.

but I feel you should focus more on the flowers - their image and sacrifice are important to this plot.
have him thinking about his choice - his dithering - what flowers, what colours - will she like them?

the boy's accent is not consistent - sounding posher when talking to the priest
priests are posh - and I think you got that pretty well -

although this part is overstating it and aloof-
“I’ve come to not expect such consideration from members of your generation. It seems you are an exception. I thank you for the kindness of your company. Your presence is indeed welcome.” - 'that's very nice of you my son' etc, would do

blocks? - we are so advanced in Britain, we use space-time! - how far or how long to get there.
minutes walking or yards away or fractions of hours walking or fractions of miles away - savvy?

good luck with the writing
Ned

DATo
July 19th, 2016, 10:58 AM
No, bad on me, it's England. I was half asleep when I posted my last comment. "Wee"s and "Aye"s are legal in England too *L*. Please excuse.

Thanks for your other suggestions as well.

bulbasaur
July 20th, 2016, 07:06 PM
This is my first piece I've read on this website, and I'm glad I chose it. The simple storyline feels like it has a deeper plot churning underneath it all, and by the end I was left wanting more (in a good way). I like the Beatles, but I didn't catch many of the references until I searched Eleanor Rigby online - really clever weaving of the names and places into your story.

At first I was unsure of how easily Paul walked up to the priest. It seemed a bit overly ambitious and unbelievable, but as the story unfolded, it only made me understand his personality and character better. I really admire how quickly and effectively you got me invested in the main protagonist. I feel like I know him very well and am rooting for him, if there were chapters following this. Well done!

DATo
July 21st, 2016, 12:32 AM
Thank you for your response bulbassaur! I'm glad you liked it. Others have posted suggestions for improvement which I am taking seriously though I have not amended the story here (with the exception of adding a missing word) because it would be confusing to people who read the thread, see the criticisms and not be able to reference the errors in the altered piece. I always copy all critiques to my hard disk however to read once more before a re-write.

I can see your point about a 15 year old's reluctance to approach a priest in a cemetery. This is why I made him somewhat hesitant and surprised by his own boldness. I'm sure this is not how the song Eleanor Rigby was conceived but I thought it might make for an interesting story.

Thanks again!

EDITED to add:

I did a bit of research:

I was sitting at the piano when I thought of it. The first few bars just came to me, and I got this name in my head ... "Daisy Hawkins picks up the rice in the church". I don't know why. I couldn't think of much more so I put it away for a day. Then the name Father McCartney came to me, and all the lonely people. But I thought that people would think it was supposed to be about my Dad sitting knitting his socks. Dad's a happy lad. So I went through the telephone book and I got the name "McKenzie" - Paul McCartney (1966)