Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
Okay, I don’t claim to be a good writer, but I do attempt to write fiction in my spare time. I’ve finished a few short stories and started half a dozen novels, and my friends know that I aspire to one day be a published author. So I will now test out some of my material on the Candy listeners. This first short story is a creative writing assignment from a teacher friend of mine. She wanted a sample for her high school seniors to read, and she asked me to write the sample, to save her some time. Her Assignment: Pick one trio of items from a list, and write a 1000-1500 word story using all three items, be creative. Looking at the list I picked this trio: Spoon, Dice, Bath Towel After about 45 minutes of typing I had this little short story. Comment on it, let me know what you think, and if you’d like to read more, let me know and I might post a new story once a week or once a month depending on how much spare time I’ve had to write.
Creative Writing Assignment: Spoon, Dice, Bath Towel
His cargo shorts loosely hanging from his hips, Wesley took stock of his situation, and knew he had not made a good decision coming to Thailand. He was over 3,000 miles away from his home in Texas, his parents, and his know-it-all ex-girlfriend. What had started as a 2 week tour of Thailand and Southeast Asia after high school graduation, had taken a turn for the worst from the start. Now, he stood in the muddy street of some village whose name he couldn’t pronounce, shivering in the rain, with no money, no passport, and no idea how he was getting home. All he had left in his Eastpak backpack was a spoon, a pair of dice, and a bath towel. He’d brought the spoon because he couldn’t use chopsticks. The bath towel was from the Grand Hyatt in Bangkok, the hotel where he had first stayed on his trip. The dice, well they were the reason he was here in the middle of nowhere half naked, half starved, and desperate to get back to Odessa, Texas.
Before the trip, Wes had been an average American teenager. About five foot eleven, 195 pounds; he was a chubby, baby faced high school graduate. His hair was dark brown and his skin had a slightly darker complexion thanks to some distant Native American ancestor. Now that fat kid was long gone, Wesley had lost at least 45 pounds since his arrival in Bangkok three weeks ago, and his skin was sun baked and so dark that it matched the villagers. All he wore was a tattered pair of Lee cargo shorts and home made flip flops. His second day in Bangkok, he’d tried some street food, and caught a nasty stomach bug, that had him spewing from both ends for the next 3 days in his hotel room.
The other Americans on the trip had been making day trips to the ruins, and visiting monasteries, learning about the ancient civilizations that had built pyramids that rivaled those in Central and South America. While they were out enjoying their trip, Wes was in bed, sipping Gatorade, eating crackers and guzzling Pepto Bismol by the bottle. Finally, on their last day in Thailand, the tour director made the decision to have Wes stay in his room until he was well, and they would make arrangements for him to fly and catch up to the tour when he felt up to travel, but a 12 hour bus ride to Malaysia was out of the question. Wes put the tour guide’s number in his cell phone, and that was the last he’d seen of the tour director.
That night ten hours after the bus left, Wesley was feeling much better and ventured out into the streets of Bangkok on his own. It looked like rain so he grabbed a towel from the bathroom; put it in his backpack with his room keycard, passport, wallet, a city map and his trusty spoon. As he walked into the city, he was dazzled by the lights, the constant honking of horns, and ever present din of the living city. It was a lot for a country boy from West Texas to take in, but it was exhilarating as well. He walked the busy streets, until he came to a restaurant that had phrases in English written on its windows. Inside he ordered a bowl of noodle soup, got his spoon out of his backpack, and ate solid food for the first time in 3 days. The hot soup soothed his soul, and with his new brightened spirits, he left the noodle shop and went to explore more of the city. He didn’t get far. As he walked out, he heard the familiar sounds of young men cheering, dice rolling on the ground, and bets being wagered from the alley next to the noodle shop.
It was just like home, instead of behind the Dairy Queen, they were behind the noodle shop, shooting craps. Wes was a world class back alley craps shooter, back home he’d taken money from oil field roughnecks, the preppy rich kids with nothing better to do, and the other assorted types that like to gamble away cash. He stepped up to the game, and watched for a few minutes. Then pulled out some cash from his wallet and placed his first bet.
What would his ex-girlfriend say now? Here he was surrounded by Thai dudes his own age, playing craps a million miles from her holier-than-thou attitude. She’d dumped him after prom, not for trying to get past first base, but for gambling with his buddies by the bleachers. Sure she wanted to dance, but he’d made 150 bucks, more than enough to cover a hotel room for the night. Wes knew what she’d say, “Gambling is a sin, and will get you in nothing but trouble.” or “You just don’t know! My dad bankrupted our family with his trips to Vegas until my mom finally left him.” To which Wes always replied, “Baby, I’m not your dad, I always win, but you can call me Poppy later if you want?” which would only agitate her more.
He played for about an hour, then followed some of the other guys to a store and bought a Pepsi. Drink in hand he came back and got started again. The great thing about craps is that it transcends linguistic boundaries; people can play without knowing what the other players are saying. So Wes played, and rolled and picked up cash, made friends, won bets, lost a few bets, and played for almost another hour. The bad thing about not knowing the language when you’re playing in a back alley game of dice, is that you don’t know when the other players are about to turn on you and rob you.
Wes woke up a day and half later, with a knot on the back of his head, bruised ribs and probably a broken arm. A young boy found him in a ditch outside the village where he stood now in the rain. Over the past week and a half he’d healed up a bit. He’d done chores around town to help the people out, they were very nice and fed him, gave him flip flops made from old tires, and shown him what to do when they couldn’t explain it to him in broken English. He had learned that there was a truck that came through about once every 2 weeks during the dry season, and sometimes less frequently during the rainy season, to take the village’s goods to market in town. That was the nearest place for him to get to a phone and back to his family. The muggers had taken his money, passport, credit cards, hotel keycard, watch, cell phone, Nikes, his shirt and cell phone. All they left him with was his tattered backpack, a bath towel, his spoon and a pair of dice as a souvenir.
-Adam Knight, December 2010