Learning To Love You More




Assignment #44
Make a "LTLYM assignment".

"Write stories from a game of Scrabble."
Kyle O'Connor
Chicago, Illinois USA



Play a game of Scrabble with up to four players. When the game is over, take a photo of the board and distribute a copy to every player (easiest via e-mail). Then each person write a story including every word on the board. If you want, italicize each word. Share your stories and talk about the differences and similarities. How did each player overcome particularly challenging words (or questionable words in the case of this scrabble game...we were pretty lenient about that)?
- - - - - - -
Story #1
It was the icon in the top right hand corner of the screen that troubled her peace the most. The rest of the screen was as ordinary as the office that housed it; the rest of the icons were placed in columns on the left side, whilst this oddity sat by itself. The air-conditioning whirled through the wall and a duo of lamps lit the office with a ghastly, whiteness so brilliant that it almost hurt the eyes. She sat twiddling a pencil between her fingers looking at the screen, occasionally giving a tap on the desk to disrupt the hollow buzzing of the lamps. She had thought that this would be the strangest day of her life; it was actually proving to be one of the most boring.
It had been four weeks since she had quit her job at Whole Foods. She had enjoyed her time there, but it was actually costing her more to pay for the petrol to get there than she could afford. Still, she was well aware of her need for money and had almost immediately joined a recruitment agency. Her aim had been to find a part-time job nearer to her apartment, but so far there had been little luck. The man at the agency carried a tome filled with names and addresses of people to whom he had promised work before her, and she thought it would be a long time before she heard form him. She was sitting cross legged on her bed, pondering her latest drawing and eating organic olives, when the phone had rung. Though she and her flat-mate had a land-line they rarely used it, and only sales-people with delightfully neutral accents ever seemed to call (her father and mother much preferred to write). The phone rang steadily, and she made her way to phone without urgency. She lifted the receiver, thinking that she should probably reduce the volume on the device; it was rather agitating on the nerves.
Sarah Farringdon?
Speaking. She replied this way suspecting that this was yet another yak-brained salesman trying to convince her that her windows were inadequate.
It's Mr. Fuge from the agency; I think I have a job for you. The strangest thing was that he only had work for one day. She thought that this was going to get her nowhere; she needed to work more steadily than one day at a time. However, as he ran through the details, it became apparent that this was a weird scenario indeed. Mr. Fuge explained that a certain corporation (one that Sarah had never heard of before) wanted a college student for a day's office work, and that the student need have no previous experience. Sarah was an Art major, and she had no intention of working in an office in the future, but this sort of experience could be useful. She also knew people who had an encyclopedic understanding of tort law who could not find work for lack of office experience. Still, Mr. Fuge was rather unspecific about the comings or goings of this unknown company (named 'Dart Enterprises'), and he gave their number for her to get all the concrete information.
The reason why Sarah Farringdon accepted the work, moreover, was that it offered to pay $900.
She had arrived at thirty minutes past eight, as had been arranged, and had managed to pull together an outfit that seemed reasonably office-like:
'Looking the Biz,' he grandmother would have said if she had lived to see her. She was welcomed at the reception of the towering offices by a tall lady (and Sarah rarely thought of anyone as 'ladies'), who wore a lack skirt and jacket, with blond hair pinned up at the back and thin rimmed glasses. She thought the lady resembled the fantasies of horny teenage boys with acne. They walked together into the dark corridors of the buildings guts and Sarah was wondering if she would rue accepting this job.
The lady (whose name, strangely, Sarah never quite grasped) walked Sarah to the office in which she now sat. The lady, slender and unbelievably attractive for a secretary (that's probably all she was employed for, Sarah considered later), explained that Sarah could do anything she wanted to as long as she did not leave the office. There was even a bathroom attached in case she needed it. She had to just sit in the office.
Is that all? Sarah questioned, hoping that it really was; in her bag were her sketchbooks and she might be able to get some work done here for next Monday's presentation if she was lucky.
Well, the lady said calmly smiling, there is just one small thing. We, the company, are expecting a phone call. We are expecting it today and, quite plainly, we don't want to answer it. However, answer it we must. It's your job to sit here and, when that phone rings (she pointed to the simple phone; it had no digits) you simply answer, say this is the office of Dart Enterprises, and assure the speaker that you are the only person here. That's it?
Yes, that's all. Silly really, I suppose, but we really need someone to do this for us. And with that the lady left Sarah to her own devices.
Sarah found it hard to draw in the sterile atmosphere of the office. It was so very stark, though she did not feel trapped and there seemed to be no cameras watching her. It had crossed her mind that this was some bizarre experiment, but as long as she got paid she did not mind. At college there had been a short-lived fad into psychology and psycho-analysis, but she had let it pass her by, and she thought the lye the other students had leached from these sciences produced weak art. She believed in sublime beauty, and so far it was getting her a C grade. She felt like an awful prat now, sat in the chair without any ideas and nothing in her sketchbook.
Her eyes had focused on the icon only because it was the only thing that did not seem perfect in the room. It seemed to depict a saber, held by a gauntlet, in a red circle. Underneath was written Armgdn: cttp:// profile. She had always been a curious child, and she had been told that she could do anything whilst in the office, but she was reluctant to click on the sign. She put down the pencil and circled the icon with the cursor, the mouse in her hand feeling clean and new, as if the computer had been bought yesterday. She shifted her hip in the chair (having read somewhere that office workers are frequently crippled by hours of sitting in the same position), and moved the sketchbook off her lap. She pulled her chair forward on its wheels, decided that Dart would not leave her in a position to access anything she should not see she resolved to see what the icon hid.
The program started up, and something inside the computer whirled. She watched as the screen burst into life. It showed a white space bordered by silver; more icons appeared in a row at the top of the screen, tiny images of magnifying glasses, telephone receivers, faces and swords lined up. There was a bale of information scrolling down the screen before it halted. Then, a single red dot appeared in one corner; a curling, viney line rolled out of it, moving across the page and clearly homing in on another red dot that had appeared on the other side. This process continued slowly, forming a web of white lines and red dots across the space. Sarah did not like it; the whole thing seemed weirdly organic and disturbingly sentient. However, she still could not determine exactly what it was doing. She clicked on the small telephone receiver at the top of the screen.
Another wiz of activity and the page had turned into a spreadsheet: One column read 'Recipients #', the next 'date received', 'period logged on', and finally 'outcome'. She read down the list, all the first column consisted of was a list of telephone numbers, likewise the second column was a list of dates, and the third a list of times. The third column puzzled her, for next to all the other lists it had either the term 'deleted' or 'unforeseen resistance'. Either way, it didn't sound too exciting. She closed the box, and the screen returned to the web. She clicked on a red dot, and a small window opened reading '155 Fifth Avenue. 3/25/02.
Curious. She said aloud, as sometimes people do when they are alone and discover curious things. She clicked on other dots and discovered they all had addresses and dates. The web was really a map a la the Loop. Her conscience waged war on her need to know more; and though curiosity killed many cats, she was certain she would survive in an office as dull as this.
She clicked on the handle of the sword. The computer produced a long list of computer script, it was ended by the line 'Contact leads to inevitable fatality / nuisance transmission / threat: severe. It was boring, and Sarah closed the box. She took up her pencil and book and began to draft out the map on the screen. Ideas for a project stampeded through her head like a herd of oxen. She thought that she could take photographs of the buildings, as the were all linked by this strange web, whatever it meant. As she was drawing, one of the red dots flashed. She looked at it as a window connected to it opened. Fatal contact confirmed. Cttp:// gglm.pg. Then it closed. She thought it all sounded a little sinister; the word 'fatal' seemed macabre for a clean office, though she realized that computer sorts often use exceptionally curt language in their reports. It seemed to her that the map was charting the progress of some sort of computer virus. Sarah hated technology.
Then the phone rang. It rang steadily as phones do and she remembered she still had not sorted the volume on her own landline. She picked up the receiver, preparing her throat for her clearest voice.
Hello? she said.
- - - - - - -
Story #2
You really gotta know how to yak in this biz. If you want any peace in your life, quit now. Nobody's gonna bale you out if you change your mind.You better get used to the goings on around here before it drives you nuts. It's real fast paced and you gotta know your stuff. If this is just a fad, then forget it. I been around here since before you were born and I've seen it all. A lotta guys really lose it.
Hey have a seat., buddy. Make yourself at home. Want some olives? I got some olives I hid in a cooler under my desk. No? Alright, Let me tell you about ol' Duane Sabre. He really cracked up. He was a real wiz back in those days, but he didn't communicate so well. He didnt yak like the rest of us. Because of that, the boss decided to veto his big proposal. Now, ol' Duane had spent every spare moment with his nose in some tome researching this proposal...I believe it dealt with homing pigeons.
At any rate the next weekend (the weekend after he got the veto) I ran into Duane in that bar...what's it called...oh, Fuge. Down there on Viney Street. He didn't look so good. He was alone and he'd had a few too many. And this guy was build like oxen...really a big guy. I said "Hello, Duane," extending my hand, "Ya doin alright, kiddo?" I asked. "How's your aim?" he replied, extending a dart. His jaw was tight and he had a pretty crazy look in his eye I'd seen that look once or twice before and I knew he was about to blow up. "Hey buddy, you don't look so good," I told him, "let me get you a drink (not that he needed it). What's on tap here?" He wasn't having it. "Just throw it, pops" he insisted. His tone of voice, low and strained, surprised me. I couldn't believe it. I know he was stressed about work and probably horny as hell. But that's no way to act. We'd made such a great duo at work and now he was being a total jackass. He felt real sorry for himself, alright. He felt like a victim of some tort so he waged war on the rest of us.
Bullseye. I'd never thrown a bullseye. I'm no good at darts. Guess I got lucky... "Oh Weeeell! Would you look at that! Grandpa throws a bullseye! Lucky you, you mother fu--," "Take it easy, Duane," I said. Before I knew it, Duane had me in a headlock. He sure ruffed me up, alright. Turns out he knows of Judo. I thought he was gonna reduce me to pulp. And the whole time he was screamin, "ALAAA!" What a freak. I went flyin through the airat one stage and really hurt my hip real bad when I landed. I got blood on my nice jacket..good thing i had some lye at home.
So, kiddo. That's what happens to guys who can't handle this biz. You seem like a good guy. I sure do rue the day a good guy like you cracks up like ol' Duane did. Alright, buddy thats enough of that. lets take an hour for lunch.