Thursday, February 14, 2013

I've Never Seen The Big Lebowski

But I have read the Shakespeare inspired version. This will make more sense once you've read this section. It is a pure coincidence that on Valentine's Day, I write the first scene where Peter and Christine are together again and other characters realize that they're having an affair. The scene also helps redeem Christine. Judging by Peter's reactions to Sam and Kenny's comments, its clear that Christine is unaware of that particular complication.

In my writing, I refer to a scene like this as a bridge scene. We needed to bridge from the scene at the Olive Garden to the next important scene. However, a simple jump would be too sudden (It starts late at night with Sam and Kenny drunk in the bowling lane after hours.) So, to help that transition, we plug in a character building scene. Sometimes there's interesting plot, but these scenes are often more character focused. A video game example is Wild Arms 4. If I were to edit for length, I'd take a good hard look at these scenes; this one would stay, because the character details we get about Christine, Peter and Kenny are actually plot critical. Others would probably go.

I also really like how this scene flows because we get some character information for our leads' best friends. Kenny and Christine are finally starting to take shape in my head, and I really feel like Kenny comes into his own here. Fiction below the fold, check here for previous issues.

* * *

That night, business was booming at the bowling alley. Susan sent a photographer around to get some pictures of inside the place. The photographer posed Kenny and me in front of the shoe trees. The photographer offered to snap some photos of Kenny’s dad, but he declined. He said: “When I’m gone, this place is going to be all they’ve got.” Which was depressing for Kenny, I guess.

When Peter came by he was dressed casual. Not business casual like I was expecting, but full on jeans and a button up checkered shirt. Like a square trying to look hip in a 90s sitcom. He even left the top button undone. A romance novelist might call it “rakish.” Kenny zeroed in on the woman who came in with him. She was a familiar face to me; he’d brought her around the O.G. before, I think. She was short, but she had the proportions Kenny liked. That is: She was a verifiable she.

“Ever since I realized how much like a woman I looked in a dress, I realized that any man could look that good in a dress. So, since then, I just like to be sure, OK?” Kenny had told me in confidence after a night of mistakes. Since then, he’s preferred girls in tight fitting clothes over frilly dresses. I never had the heart to tell him that they probably make skinny jeans for men.

Peter introduced us: “Honey, these are Sam and Kenny. They’re friends of mine. Guys, meet Christine.”

“This must be your w—” I said.

“Woman. She’s my woman,” Peter cut in.

“I prefer girlfriend. Or sweetheart. Or lover. Honey’s OK.” Her eyes danced with mischief.

“Ah, so you’re d—”

“I wouldn’t call her difficult,” Peter cut in.

“If you want to live.” Her eyes danced with malice. When mischief stops being cute, it becomes malice.

“No, not her,” Kenny said. “He was going to say you are d—”

“Damned lucky to have her,” Peter said with a nod as he wrapped his arm around the girl’s shoulders. I think he had to hunch a little to do that. He was a giant next to her.

Kenny and I shared a confused glance before what was going on washed over us. Kenny was aghast; he might hit on everything in a skirt (or, well, tight jeans), but he would never hit on anything with a wedding ring. “Unless she was a hot widow who hadn’t yet had the strength to remove her ring,” Kenny had told me. “Then, I would hold her tight and whisper that he would want her to be happy.”

Kenny firmly believed that he “had game.”

“Look, I just wanted to introduce Christine to the heroes of the hour,” Peter said. “And take her out to a night bowling.”

“He doesn’t believe that I can kick his ass,” Christine said. “I let him win in basketball, but bowling’s my sport.”

“It’s not really a sport,” Peter said offhandedly as he pulled out his wallet. Kenny slammed his hand on the table and a finger flew into Peter’s face.

“You take that back, now sir, or we’ll have to go outside,” Kenny said. “Do you know the skill and dedication it takes? The careful balance of the ball in your hand? Sliding your fingers into the holes, just enough to have a firm grip, but not so far as to push from the inside? Watching as the ball shoots down the lane, perfect form, hoping — willing for it to find its mark? No, sir! I don’t think you do!”

“Alright, alright,” Peter said. “It’s more of a sport than golf.”

“Well, that’s a given,” Kenny said as he got them their shoes. I never know what gets into that man.

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