Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Meet the General

Thanks to all who have read the opening and double dipped thank you to those who have left comments.  It's good to know you want more.  So here goes.....(Feedback welcome!  I'm not kidding the comments I got yesterday were very helpful.)

Introduction is here.

Chapter 1:  We Just Go with It and Call Him General
     “Hello?”  I held the cell phone between my ear and shoulder as I dug through my purse, a common pose for me.
    “Mrs. Rhodes?  This is Dr. Goodling from Davis Middle School,” an officious, but softly accented voice said the words that make my stomach sink. Damn. What now?
     “Hi, yes, how are you?”  I sounded so silly.  Dr. Goodling was calling because something was wrong, not to discuss how she was doing.
     “I’m fine, thank you, but I’m calling about Aaron,” her words came out in a rush. I knew that she was afraid I’d interrupt her, wasting more of her valuable time with silly questions.  She was probably worried that I’d try to discuss the weather next. 
    I blurted out, “Oh no, what’s he done?” Okay, so it wasn’t a brilliant thing for a supportive mother to say, but it was out and I couldn’t take it back. 
     “Well, I’m afraid it’s more of the same.  He’s been talking about General Patton again.  You know, Mrs. Rhodes, I know that he’s a very bright boy, but this joking about Patton is going a little too far,” she paused.  I remained silent.
     “We need you to work with us to explain to him why it’s upsetting to his social studies teacher and why we want him to stop telling these tales about…about….well, about reincarnation,” she took a deep breath and waited.  She was conditioned to expect me to either defend my child, denying what she knew to be true or to explain away his behavior.  I wasn't going to do either. 
     Frankly, I thought she was being generous.  Aaron’s ongoing goof about being General George S. Patton reincarnated had gotten on my last nerve a couple of weeks ago.  He was such a good actor that it was hard to tell if he was joking or not.
     “Mrs. Rhodes?”  Dr. Goodling was still waiting for some kind of defense or concession from me.  Would it be cool to simply tell her that I took responsibility for being a failure as a mother and that we’d made an appointment with Aaron’s therapist to talk about this Patton issue?
     “I know, Dr. Goodling, it’s really annoying at home, too.  I’m trying to balance my concern with the knowledge that Aaron is the kind of kid who enjoys a good prank,” I paused, not sure what else to offer.  “I, um, we, Aaron’s father and I, have discussed it and we’ve made an appointment for him to see his therapist,” I decided that a blunt pronouncement was going to end this call quicker than anything else.  I was struggling to keep the frustration out of my voice.  Not only did I not want to be dealing with Aaron’s nonsense, I was late for a meeting.   It had started to sprinkle and I still had a long walk through the parking lot to get to the country club where I was responsible for a large luncheon.
     Dr. Goodling let her breath out slowly.  Perhaps she was relieved that I hadn’t been defensive or dismissive?  “Ah, well….that’s, um, that’s very good.  I think that it would help us to find out if Aaron actually believes he’s Patton or if perhaps we can call his bluff,” I could hear a slight smile in her voice.
     “Exactly,” I said a bit too loudly.  I looked out the car window and saw that some of the luncheon attendees were already arriving.  “Dr. Goodling, I have to go now.  I’m late for a meeting, but if anything else comes up, please call.  You can also call my husband Michael.”
     We said our goodbyes and I made a mental note to talk to Aaron that evening.  If he was goofing, it had to stop.  If he wasn’t, well, I wasn’t prepared to think about that right now.  My boss was circling the block in her BMW, looking for a close parking space and I wanted to get into the banquet hall before she did.  I scrambled out of the car and rushed away, aiming the key fob over my shoulder, listening for the beep beep indicating that the car was locked. 
     I clickety clacked in my heels through the parking lot and mounted the stairs up toward the country club’s main entrance.  It was an older club, built in a posh neighborhood of turn of the century Queen Annes and bungalows, and it sat near the road.  I could see the BMW making another sweep by, still angling for a good spot.  Why didn’t she just go to the valet stand? I wondered.  The parking attendants, who recognized me from the number of times I’d been there before greeted me as I hurried up the steps.  I said a quick hello then scanned the parking lot for more attendees.  That’s when I noticed a parked car with its lights on.  I paused for a second knowing instinctively that it was mine.  My shoulders slumped, I turned on my heel and clickety clacked back as fast as I could.


  1. Love it, Lisa! Love. It! :)

    Keep sharing--I love to read it!!

  2. yeah, keep it coming!! It's good, Lisa!! Really. REALLY!!!

  3. I've been away for ages, and I've just been reading through your recent posts so that I can get a bit of a "catch-up" on your life. I'm really sorry to hear about the ongoing money worries/hassles. And yet no matter what the topic, you always manage to insert so much humor into whatever you are writing about.

    This leads me to my question: What sort of "genre" (for lack of a better word) is this book going to be? What audience is it aimed at? (I thought you were writing a memoir. Am I confused?)

  4. on pins and needles...Patton???

  5. This is gonna be one heck-uv-a ride!

  6. ok so maybe a triple comment (I hate my laptop AND verizon)

    love it.
    but for some reason the "clickity clack" just didn't work for me.
    (remember this is coming from someone whose opinion of literature is the latest issue of Batman"

  7. Lisa - I love this. Left longing for more, so please keep writing!

  8. I'm trying to figure out how point a and point b are connected. Again, a good thing.

  9. I'm tickled by all the possibilities of conversations with Aaron who's claiming to be the reincarnation of Patton. There's a lot of hilarious mileage you can cover with that meme and although most of the general's quotes are quite well known most people don't know who made them. A personal favorite is, 'No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair'.

    The conversation with Dr. Goodling is well done and it's easy to see just what a good sense you have for things unsaid and use them to advantage for developing the narrative. At that point there was no need to describe her physical appearance because everyone has had a Dr. G. call at an inconvenient time. (I hid behind trees a couple of times when I spotted a particular nun heading my way).

    Finally, I enjoyed the classic Lisa routine as the proud yet slightly inept professional woman heads toward an important engagement only to realize her plans have gone awry. Clickety clack, I wonder hat comes next?

  10. This sounds really good, Lisa. I'm hoping that the son is tested with some very obscure Patton facts, or some circle of aging beret-wearing cohorts of Patton's who know things that only Patton himself would know.

    I am wondering how the last scene connects to this one - is that one much further in the story, when the mother travels back?

  11. Please don't tell me that your car is a reincarnated M4 Sherman. Otherwise, very very cool so far. Keep posting excerpts!

  12. I'm not sure, but is this a flashback from the introduction? One of the cues that a novel is from a new writer is to start with the real story, then try to explain with a flashback. By which I mean, editors won't read it at all. (Is what I've been told by editors at writer's conferences.)

    Now to be hyper-critical, because I think the writing is good, I can't tell that these are the same story. I like the intro a lot; it's quirky. I like the General as well, but there is not enough connection to make the storyline clear. Maybe if this chapter is a flashback, that's part of the problem. Just means the story arc may need to be made clearer and maybe have things rearranged. I suspect you wanted to start in both places, but couldn't choose, and the bicycle accident was more interesting?

    Looking forward to reading more.


And then you say....

(Comments submitted four or more days after a post is published won't appear immediately. They go into comment moderation to cut down on spam.)