A Grandpa Hank’s Story Sample Fragment Thingamabob

Posted by on Mar 27, 2014 in Creative Writing, Stories | 0 comments

A Grandpa Hank’s Story Sample Fragment Thingamabob

So after six months of writing this blog about writing, my sister (who does all the actual work for this site) suggested that I post a story or two so anyone happening upon this blog could get a taste of what I do creatively. That way, we could both stir things up a bit as well as let the readers have a chance to see if I truly know what I’m talking about. My first reaction to the idea was that it was somewhat dangerous – mainly because there’s a moderate to large chance I don’t actually know what I’m talking about. But being as I didn’t have much time to create something new this week, I decided to follow her advice, digging deep into my archives to find this little nugget. It’s from a novel that I started and subsequently didn’t know what to do with. I liked the character (who is basically me with a different name) so I just kept writing – hoping a plot would form in my head at some point.

Um, it didn’t.

I got about fourteen pages in, got distracted by other things and just sort of left it as an unfinished testament to incompleteness.

Anyway, the following is a snippet from that novel. I believe I wrote it sometime in the fall of 2006 while I was still trying to figure out what in the hell a railroad trash kid from Pittsburgh was doing wandering around Los Angeles.

Note: The following contains SWEARS! So if you are offended by particular letters arranged in certain orders, uh….I guess be prepared to mentally replace them with a BEEEEP sound or random characters like %&*#@&$!


He sat down like he always did, chair scraping across the patio, plopping down without eye contact, pressing his fingers into the external brain he called his Blackberry. I studied him as I often did, smooth black shirt and stain-guarded Dockers, loafers and aviator shades that sat on a jet black haircut, one little gelled wave gliding across his scalp like it was about to swallow a body boarder. His thumbs did a dance as I drifted away, chewing on some sort of organic, new wave bread, and watching the traffic crawl down Sunset Boulevard. Everything around me was made of plastic or wishing to be.

“Jaaaaack,” he said, drawling out my name until he finished his email. “What’s up, buddy?”

“You good? You done there?”

“Hey, got shit coming at me from all sides,” he said, making an annoying clicking noise that always accompanied a more annoying wink. “Gotta keep rollin’, gotta keep moving or you’ll get eaten up. Here’s the deal. They love it. Love the script. And they want it. They’ll buy it. Mid-six figs. No kidding. Mid-six figs, that’s what they’re looking at.”

“I’m not turning the main character into a woman.”

“Hey, it’s mid six figs, let ‘em turn him into a fuckin’ monkey, mid-six figs.”

“It’s about my grandfather’s unit liberating Dachau.”

“Bianca DeBianca sells. You know this. I know this. She’s been looking for a World War II pic, huh? Rehab her image. Greatest generation and all that shit. Wanna get it in before they all die off. Check it, she’s an Italian nurse in war torn Europe. Hot little outfit. Falls for an American GI. Grenades and explosions – machine guns and shit. I can see the poster right now. Her and her giant fucking tits leaning over a dying soldier. “Sometimes we must liberate others to save ourselves,” some shit like that as the tagline. Fucking brilliant. And if that doesn’t get you worked up,” he tipped his glasses down and leaned across the table, reflecting the plastic woman with the plastic dog, eating plastic food behind me, “Mid fucking six fucking figs.”

I sat back, chewing on my hippie bread, in the first stages of realizing that my grandfather’s harrowing march from Sicily to Poland was rapidly falling into the cleavage of a twenty-two year old megastar who currently sat poolside at some Malibu rehab facility.

“Let me think on it, man.”

“This doesn’t come around every day. Right now you’re nobody. This makes you somebody. You wanna slum around stocking toasters your whole life?”

He had a point. I was twenty-eight with a Master’s Degree in Communication, stacking DVDs at Target, living in a converted garage behind my landlord’s house in Studio City with a Chinese undergrad that pretended not to understand me when I told him to get his fucking dishes out of the sink and quit pissing on the toilet flap. All for twice as much per month as Meaney was paying on his freaking mortgage back in East Pittsburgh. Cause after all, it’s a privilege to live in Southern California.

I chuckled. “I don’t just stock toasters ya know. I set a wealth of other products on top of each other as well.”

He didn’t hear my clever little joke. He was busy cracking his spine over the back of the chair, snapping for the waitress. “So you going home for Christmas? Hanukkah? Whatever you’re into there…” he said, one eye on his Blackberry. “Where you from? Philly? Right?”


“Eh, cold… east coast. It’s all the fucking same.”

My eyes narrowed. Just long enough to put a mental fork in his eye. Calling me from Philly. Fucker was lucky he was buying me lunch.

The waitress strutted up like she was practicing for a modeling gig in that, “Hi, I’m an actress, may I take your order,” way that they all do, flirting with everyone that looks important on the off chance they’re actually important – waiting for the, “Hey doll, you got the face of a star,” that never comes. He patted her on the back and she leaned down, flopping her black-tipped blonde hair in his face so he could give her a kiss that flaunted his status.

“Hey hon, I’ll take a Heineken,” he said, flipping his shades on the table. “Have a beer, Jack. On me. Celebrate this deal, huh?”

The waitress perked up at the word, “deal,” her flirtatious smile only moving my direction upon realizing that someday I might be famous enough to direct. “And for you?”

“You don’t have Iron City here do you?”

It was like I’d just spit out Mandarin. Like all the other actresses I threw for a loop with that question, she answered with rote memorization. “We have Bud, Bud Light, Amstel,…”

“Sorry. It’s a Pennsylvania beer. Always ask on the off chance…”

He gestured across the table. “My man here’s from Pittsburgh. Ordering strange beers makes him feel at home.”

And here it came. I don’t know how her nose managed to shrivel up. Cartilage doesn’t typically have that property. “Pittsburgh? Eew, how do you even breathe the air there?”

And there it was. Smokestacks and open-hearth slag filled her eyes as the words fell from her mouth. I just looked up into the whitish brown haze that currently blurred the edges of the San Gabriels – the floating coat of varnish that was currently eating my lungs from the inside out. “Where are you from?”

“Glendale. But I live in North Hollywood now,” she answered.

My own nose shriveled up as I stared at the sky, trying to find where the clouds began and the exhaust ended. “I guess I’ll have a Heineken too.”

He twitched as she walked away, mentally slapping her ass, his eyebrows popping up as he nodded to me, the wrinkles in his forehead saying, ‘I could hit that if I felt like it.’

I sat through forty-five minutes of him bitching about the Lakers in that, ‘I don’t really know anything about sports, but I’m going to play general manager like I do’ kind of way. I nodded and chimed in every once in a while, thankful for the beer. He was an interesting guy in a flashy, LA sort of way. I often wondered what he was like back in Iowa City, before the tentacles of Hollywood sucked out his brain. Most of our conversations, I felt like I was trying to loosen the Vader helmet and find that last remaining glimpse of a soul. His name was Dominick Bates, a fact I’ve so far forgotten to mention.

Ok, back to reality. So that’s my novely snippet type thing for the day. I know, not an immensely satisfying ending, but hopefully it was at least mildly interesting. Sometimes you just need to create a character to give a voice to the confusion you feel about your current environment. Which is probably all I was trying to do at the time anyway.

And again, I apologize if you were offended by the swearing. Those characters did that all on their own with no prompting from me. I’m truly sorry. But for your troubles, let me offer you some better, more pleasing words to cleanse your mental palette.


Ah, there. That’s %^#*ing better.

photo credit: Jess Walters via photopin cc

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