No title yet, suggestions appreciated. Life in a small town story


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Thread: No title yet, suggestions appreciated. Life in a small town story

  1. #1

    No title yet, suggestions appreciated. Life in a small town story

    No title yet, I am not sure about some of the dialog tags or punctuation, any help or suggestions appreciated if you can help it read smooth.




    The look of exasperation on his face said it all, clenched jaw, a thousand yard stare; It was obvious his mind was someplace else, and it was not a good place.


    The diner this morning was full. I normally sit at a table and spread the Wall Street journal out to read. I enjoy reading while I eat, and banter with the locals. It is as much about the company as it is the food. I took a place at the counter.


    I was sipping on my coffee and watched them when they came in and sat down beside me; a family of four, dad and mom in their late thirties, a daughter around eight. Their son around thirteen looks like he just finished crying. He sank on the stool beside me. Dad sat on the far end, and looked like he wanted to be any place else but here. Mom put on a fake smile and tried her best to make her little family look normal.


    They must be on vacation, I have never seen them before and this is a small tourist town. The scene brought back memories for me; teenage kids somehow intent on spoiling what was supposed to be a good time. One smart remark too many, pushing the bounds and pushing your buttons, all the normal things that go with raising kids. The all too familiar thoughts of... Why can't we just go someplace with the kids and not have a battle.


    I felt sorry for dad. Mom the peacemaker trying to fix it with smiles and sweet talk, the little sister taking it all in. She sat next to her brother, not sure if she was supposed to be mad like dad, or smile like mom.


    There is something about sitting at a counter in a diner, strangers sharing a meal, sitting close enough to touch. Conversation is almost a given, small town dynamics make it that way.


    "Hey, how ya doin?" I say it loud enough for the whole family to hear, but it is obvious that it is directed at the son.


    He squirms on his stool, not sure if he is supposed to talk to the old guy next to him or not. I don't divert my gaze, but wait patiently for an answer.


    "OK, I guess." He says it softly.


    "On vacation, huh? There are some pretty cool things to see around here."


    He gives me a long, "Yeah."
    It was clear while he might have liked the area, today was not a good day.


    The waitress took his drink order, he looked up and looked at her when gave it, maybe things were not as bad as he thought, he seemed a little more relaxed.


    Mom looked at me and smiled, his dad gave me a slight nod, his sister stared straight ahead. She wasn't going to be doing any talking to some strange old guy in a diner, her body language said it all.


    "When I was about your age." He looked at me. "I went on a trip with my parents to Florida, it was the trip from hell.


    He smiled.


    I stuck out my hand, "My name is Bob."


    "Steve, is mine." He reached for my hand, one friend to another who happened to share a common misery.


    Dad and mom both smiled. His little sister gave me a funny look.


    My food had arrived, the waitress took all their orders.


    In between bites, Steve and I talked, small stuff, where they lived, what he liked to do. I shared with him about some of my hobbies; boring him with some details about motorcycle racing and long distance running. He talked about school and being thankful for summer break. We talked a little bit about video games. We both had played Call of Duty, I assured him he would kick my ass, as grandpas have no business playing video games.


    As I finished my meal, Steve was just digging into his.


    "Hey Steve," he looks over at me while still chewing on his burger. "If I told you there was a magic phrase that could open doors for you, would you use it?"


    This was met by silence.


    "If I told you, there was something that you could say that would make adults, your teachers, your parents, to give you a better chance at what you wanted, would you use it?"


    He sat there trying to figure me out, I could see the wheels of his mind spinning. For a kid his age, I am sure there was just enough doubt, just enough Harry Potter out there, just enough goofy comic book movies, with super heroes and secret powers, that he was not going to dismiss the possibility.


    Shaking his head, he gave me a confident, "Yeah."


    I turned to face him, looked him in the eye, "The next time you talk to an adult, your teacher, your mom or dad."


    I paused, "Wait... First, you have to promise me that if I tell you this, you will try it."


    Steve gives me an anxious, "Yeah, sure!"


    "Cause this really works." I say like I am selling the latest gizmo on TV.


    Now dad and mom, and even his sister are looking at me. I will confess I love an audience, and love a chance to be just a little bit dramatic.


    "The next time you really want something Steve, this is what you say, 'Yes Ma'am, no Ma'am.' You say,'Yes sir, no sir.' It will open up doors for you, it will make you stand out... And it will make you special. You will find that all of a sudden lots of things are now possible.


    Steve gives me a funny look.


    "Now you promised me you'd try it, so you have to try it... I know it works, and if you give it a chance, you'll find it works too.


    His dad took a deep breath and smiled, nodded his head and said, "Thanks."


    Mom gave me a real smile, his sister looked at me funny.


    I picked up my check and made my way to pay at the register. I did not turn around, I was smiling and really didn't want them to see it.


    There is something special about sitting at the counter in a country diner.
    Last edited by Plasticweld; August 16th, 2019 at 12:54 AM.
    God hates a coward Revelation 21:8

    “Good writin' ain't necessarily good readin'.”

    Hidden Content ,

    To encourage and facilitate "me"

  2. #2
    Talking to Strangers
    Dont talk to Strangers.. most of the time
    The Old man and what he sees (play on The old man the sea)

  3. #3
    I liked it, I may have missed something but the punctuation seems fine. Your second paragraph though - how do you know what he was since he was a stranger? One thing I've always done is not make erroneous assumptions: however, if you are going to make one - you might tell us why you think that. Basically though, I think it would best to eliminate the paragraph. I've found that sitting on a bench a Walmart attracts people, and have often struck up a conversation that way. Some will even tell me part of their life story. Probably because I look old and harmless.
    "Self-righteousness never straddles the political fence."

    Midnightpoet


    "The bible says to love your neighbor. It's obvious that over the centuries it has been interpreted as the opposite."
    (sarcasm alert)

    Midnightpoet


    Hidden Content Hidden Content

  4. #4
    Pretty sure it should be a colon in the first sentence.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. Steven Wright

  5. #5
    My town is one main st. I was a town councilman here for years. Everyone here not only knows you, they know your parents and your grand parents, who your related and your friends.

    This is the whole town, the street is full, it is the Fall Festival.

    Some body new stands out when they do something like lock the car when they get out of it. If you were to look into all of the cars at any of the diners here, the locals all have the keys in ignition. Hit the lock option on your key fob as you exit, it tells the entire town here, you are a stranger.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails town of montour.jpg  
    God hates a coward Revelation 21:8

    “Good writin' ain't necessarily good readin'.”

    Hidden Content ,

    To encourage and facilitate "me"

  6. #6
    I grew up in a small town and everyone knew everyone (1950's)but it didn't have a snowball's chance of staying that way - right between Dallas and Ft. Worth, burgeoning metroplex. Mother's family were pioneers, arrived in the 1870's.
    "Self-righteousness never straddles the political fence."

    Midnightpoet


    "The bible says to love your neighbor. It's obvious that over the centuries it has been interpreted as the opposite."
    (sarcasm alert)

    Midnightpoet


    Hidden Content Hidden Content

  7. #7
    This town used to be bigger, in the 60s and early 70s there was a place called Shepard Niles that built cranes. It employed about 600 people. The Main Street used to be full of stores, now more than half are empty. Up-State NY used to be a place where things were built, it was the home of La France, Ann Page, Ingersoll Rand and many other places that specialized in machine work. The shift in the economy and shift to buying things from China changed all that. I know that when my son graduated high school the senior class was less than 70. Today we are a tourist town. The Watkins Glen Race Track, the Gorge and the wineries are the main draws to the town. During Nascar or the fall, the area is packed with tourists, during the non tourist seasons the place is pretty empty. The next big thing coming here will be the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    God hates a coward Revelation 21:8

    “Good writin' ain't necessarily good readin'.”

    Hidden Content ,

    To encourage and facilitate "me"

  8. #8
    The look of exasperation on his face said it all: clenched jaw, thousand yard stare. It was obvious his mind was someplace else, and it was not a good place.
    ?
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. Steven Wright

  9. #9
    -Key of G-
    *i think it will take about 5 separate readings*
    *before I have any useful feedback*
    *but the above title woke me*
    *on bbc time*


    on an aside,
    i have been seriously
    considering a relocation
    to new york state.
    this looks like a potential match
    worth further research.

  10. #10
    I think you've really captured a golden moment here with your non-fiction piece. Maybe the town could serve as inspiration for the title? Or, if you humor me, maybe you could take the line of, "Yes, sir" etc and incorporate it.

    As far as the style goes, besides the colon, I think it works and reads fluidly. Although I am not certain that, "thousand-yard stare", as that is a military term (as far as I've known) is best suited.

    A great piece! Impressive.

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