A Chat with Dr. Palmer

Here at the end I was expecting to say things like, “I wish I had more time.” not “It’s still so hard.”

“Pretend you were a comic book hero who could create fire from nothing. Describe to me how would you warm that glass of water?” Dr. Palmer kicked his chin toward the table and the glass.

Karen narrowed her eyes and tightened her lips, “Really?”

“I need New Karen for this.”

Karen took a slow breath and closed her eyes tight. She made her face into a rung out wet rag trying to twist out Old Karen at Dr. Palmer’s goofy suggestion. When she opened her eyes she started to take a wider stance.

Dr. Palmer put a hand on her arm before she could raise it. “Tell me; don’t show me.”

Karen lowered her arms and brought her feet back together. “OK. I suppose I would thrust my boobs and ass at the water then reach out with my fire shooting hands.”

“Good. You’re making this even easier.” He lifted his hand off her arm. She hadn’t realized it was still there and took it as leave to demonstrate the stance she described.

“Stop. As much as I’d love to see you try, we’re just talking still.” Dr. Palmer liked to talk, but Karen grew tired of talking a week ago. She wanted to start doing something. She wanted to shoot fire from her hands or spin up a whirlwind. “Repeat it to me, please.”

Dr. Palmer’s [description of demeanor]. [Made it hard for her to refuse.] [blah blah blah].

“Thrust boobs and…butt.” Karen remembered he was a teacher who require some decorum. “Reach out with fire shooting hands.”

“One by one, remove the elements you don’t need to heat the water.” Dr. Palmer grabbed her attention with his eyes and refused to release her to something less important. She could no longer even imagine the soft light of the library around her or the earthy smell of his books.


Dr. Palmer nodded her on like it wasn’t an obvious joke. She resisted rolling her eyes.


Another nod. Clearly he’d meant for her to continue. Karen broke his gaze and searched the room for help. The tiffany lamp held a pattern of colors and shapes she found interesting but not useful. The green settee invited her to sit upon it’s slick-rough velvet, but it didn’t tell her what to say next. [maybe another thing if it’s not too corny.]

Dr. Palmer waited for an answer.

“Boobs. Butt. All I have left are hands?”

Wow this simple thing is much longer than I’d expected.

437 words on day 986

Building a Minor Character

The Clockwork Spider thing from Nano a couple of years back returns to mind each time I sit in front of the computer to write. I wrote Mal’s half of the roadside picnic table scene two days ago—I don’t recall if I posted it or not. I’d done a fair bit of thinking about the plot for that story. I didn’t codify it though. I think I’ll do a little remembering out loud here today.

Malachi is an older mage dating Karen who is both younger than him and less experienced in magic than he. A clockwork spider Malachi constructed as a precocious youth holds the key to finding (and rescuing) their coven leader Prof. Palmer. Somehow a prison break was involved as well as a bit of world-hopping, a séance, and a jealous scheming runner-up.

Except for a bunch of tattoos and a roughshod look, Malachi didn’t have much characterization. Karen may have had less.

What other stuff I’ve written since my original musing implies that I’ve got Malachi collecting advice/clues/aid from less savory friends than belong to the coven as regulars. As I think on this it feels a bit like a montage or yak shaving. I suppose that isn’t bad as long as each meet-up increases the stakes and is closely tied to the conflict. But I ought to work out what it is Mal seeks with each meeting and why he doesn’t get what he wants.

Here’s a quick exchange with Steven Tattersall in Haast, NZ that came to mind…

After establishing Steven as a bit of a letch, Karen and Malachi depart.

Karen shrugged and shivered and stamped her feet like she was wriggling out of a cocoon. “I told you you wouldn’t like him,” said Malachi.

“You didn’t tell me how much you do though.”

Mal smiled instead of lying.

“What?” Karen crossed her arms. “What? You’re enjoying this too much not to be telling me something…everything. Anything. Whatever. What?”

“Steven’s gay.” [kinda think Mal might say ‘fag’ but I’m not sure how to resolve that]

“I wouldn’t have guessed that.”

“He wouldn’t want you to.”

“Why not?”

“Because he hasn’t either.”

356 words on day 983

How Bad Could They Be?


Malachi ashed his Lucky Strike then decided to leave it there in the glass dish he’d brought; you couldn’t smoke in a Texas diner.

“You know,” Malachi looked away and thumbed a torn corner of orange leatherette on the back of their booth, “I was lighting cigarettes for two years before I ever smoked one?” He turned his attention back to Karen. “Ever tell you that?”

Karen shook her head small because she was being quiet and trying to ken his screen. A smoke screen, she thought; she almost laughed aloud.

“Suppose not. You probably can’t imagine me as a kid.”

She smiled and let go part of her stored up laugh. “No. Not really.”

“My great grandfather had a stroke when I was seven, or there abouts. That summer when I was out of school and my mom was working at the cleaners she’d leave me with him. Myrtle, his second wife—we never called her great grandma—was already dead. My grandparents, his son, lived in the house next door.

[one of the points of his story—why he smokes—is because even though he heard the warnings that smoking was bad for you he saw his stroked great grandfather smoking and never die because of it, so he figured it was safer than anyone said it was]

216 words on day 895