Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Something got us

Last you heard we arrived safely back from Vancouver. Yesterday late afternoon both of us noticed a bit of throat scratchiness. Oops.

Today was not fun. I had planned on swimming this morning, and figured that would be a bad idea. Instead I got into the office a bit early and froze my ass off all morning, even after pounding back 5 or 6 big mugs of tea. I had a sweater and my scarf on. To the deep disappointment of my fans, there is no grossness yet, but I'm pretty sure that's coming.

Enough of that. Last night I spent some time working on one of the dream sequences in my novel. It's still not quite what I remember of the dream, but it's something. Here's a different chunk, something I wrote a while ago.

First night shift for Les.

`One of the habits you might want to get into,` Dwen said, `is to scuff your feet a little. You walk quite quietly, and this time of night that’s not a good idea.`

`Just after sunset on a warm summer evening. What’s special about that?`

Dwen pointed. `Can you see that dark shadow that just moved over by that tree? It has a white stripe.`

`Oh! Yes, now I see it.`

`You won’t always. They’re used to people and have no fear at all. I came within a few feet of kicking one once. It just stood there.`

`That would be double plus ungood. Has anyone been sprayed yet?`

`Reading Orwell, eh? Nobody that I know of has been sprayed, although one of the operators used Two Dog’s truck to chase, then run over a skunk. We have raccoons here as well, and one guy got bitten.`

`Two Dogs,` Les said. `I haven’t heard that one yet. Anyone I know?`

`I don’t think so; he's one of the maintenance foremen.`

`How did he get that nickname? Does he like dogs?`

`Oh no. Have you heard the expression ‘dog fucking’ used to mean wasting time on the job?`


`So what’s lazier than one dog fucking?`

`Two Dogs?`

`And he sure is. Now, I want you to show me how you are going to check the equipment in this next section of the plant. Don’t explain to me, just do it and pretend I’m not here. I’ll ask you about it later. If you miss anything you’ll have to walk back and look.`

`Wouldn’t it be more efficient to ask me while I’m looking at it?`

`In terms of saving time, yes. But that’s not the point. We have lots of time, and you’ll have to learn to remember how things were, because someone is always going to be asking if you’ve looked at a particular thing. If you can’t remember what its condition was, you might as well not have looked at it. If I make you walk back to look at something again, you’ll remember next time. Take notes if you want.`

`I see. Are you taking a particular interest in training me, or is this how you treat everyone?`

`This is the first time that I’ve been mostly responsible for training someone, but if I’m not around someone else will carry on. Partly it’s an assessment of my skills. If you show people that you can do what you’ve been shown, and are beginning to understand the plant, then people know my training has worked. If you screw up, they’ll think you were dropped on your head or something, but they’ll wonder about me a little. So you can see where my interest is. Plus, showing other people stuff is a good way to review it for yourself. I figure if you can’t explain something to someone else, you don’t really understand it yourself.`

They had been walking toward, then inside 1 PPH. Les walked around for a few minutes looking at various equipment while Dwen sat on the stairs and watched. He finished and came over. `That’s enough of that.`

Dwen stared up at him for a moment, and said `That’s nice. Are you calling it a night, or what?`

`What, I guess. Let’s go past my favourite spot.` He led her down the tunnel, under the orange pipe, and checked out the thickener pumphouse. From there he moved silently on through the rest of his territory. In between the places he checked equipment he walked as fast as he could without making it look like he was trying to walk fast at all. It annoyed him a little that Dwen kept up without any difficulty. He finished up at the headworks computer, looked through it, and said, `ask me anything.`

`What is your name?`

`Arthur, King of the Britons.`

`What is your favourite colour?`


`What is the meaning of life?`

`Forty two,` he replied.

`Very good. No catapult or Vogon poetry for you, so far. All that means is that you are in the right state of mind for night shift.`


  1. Ooooh. Like the snippet very much! Intriguing characters and great dialogue. Keep going, Keith!!

    1. Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. I'm back to working regularly on it. So far. (Which is a significant phrase in the relationship between Dwen and Les.)


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