Thursday, February 8, 2007

Episode 04: A Little About Lara

What has gone before: Andrew Weazle, the owner of a failing coffee shop on the University of Alberta campus trades what he believes to be the final Friday night deposit in return for 'magic coffee beans' from a homeless man. After dumping the coffee made by the magic beans into a potted bonsai tree, Andrew is knocked unconscious--he awakens to find a massive ash tree has mysteriously grown overnight inside the shop. Joined by his new employee Lara, Andrew begins to investigate the wondrous occurrence...

At this point it might begin to seem as though I'm merely suspending action to maintain a false series of cliffhangers in order to maintain return visits to "see what happens next." This is not entirely false, but it has nothing to do with why I'm suspending the action yet again. This time, I'm suspending the action to talk about another suspension, that of disbelief.
You see, once the reader knows what Andrew does, they’ll begin to wonder how it was that Lara stayed so calm. To understand that, you need to know a little about Lara.

Firstly, she is not a native of the prairies. She’s from the coast. Now before anyone jumps to conclusions about the level of alteration in her state of consciousness, it must be noted that not everyone from British Columbia smokes weed (had she been from the interior of B.C. the odds of Lara being a pothead would have gone up exponentially). So it wasn’t that she was stoned. In fact, on that particular Saturday morning, Lara was 2 years, 3 weeks, and 2 days stone cold sober.

The reason I mention her coastal roots concerns the reason she moved to Alberta.

When an alcoholic decides to stop drinking, it’s often helpful to get a new community to immerse oneself in, since the community you embraced up until that point is not likely to be sympathetic to your choice to dry out and stay away from the one thing you all crave nearly as much as air.

So Lara went tree planting. Now, I know what you’re thinking; tree planters drink like fish. This is again, a stereotype. They are more likely to smoke dope, because it’s easier to carry a baggie out into the middle of nowhere than it is to haul a case of beer. And Lara knew the crew she was joining was alcohol free, because she’d met the crew leader at AA. His name was Josh, and he was hot.

Good sex can be a great placebo for one’s addiction. However, like most placebos, if the substance one replaces the formerly addictive and harmful substance with is equally harmful and addictive, then it completely defeats the purpose. Unlike alchohol though, a bad relationship can take a hell of a lot more time to exact it’s toll from you.

When the tree planting season ended, Josh moved to Alberta to drive truck for an oil company, since there was a lot of money in it. Unlike some tree planters, Josh had no ecological concerns when it came to the work he was doing. Repairing the environment for one season, raping it the next; Josh was a true capitalist mercenary.

But Lara didn’t mind. Because he was hot.

And so Lara moved to Alberta. She moved to a small town with a difficult name which lent itself easily to puerile jokes, where she and Josh made her homebase. Not that he was home much.

Going from Vancouver to rural Alberta was a rather large shock for Lara, as well as the town. The Lutheran minister who came by had stared at her for almost a minute without saying anything after Lara informed him that she wouldn’t be attending Sunday service because, while she respected Christ as part of her pantheon, she was more of a pantheist, and any opportunity she could have to worship nature she was going to take full advantage of.

Luckily most of the people in the town didn’t know what Lara meant when she said she was Wiccan, and since a lot of the local teenagers were expressing their adolescent angst by dressing in faux-emo (the kind that results from having to get your clothes at a SAAN or Work Wearhouse), no one minded Lara’s choice in noir-wear. Besides, she made a hell of an apple pie for the community bakesale.

Just when she was settling in to becoming the little Goth on the prairie, the world caved in. In an impulsive moment of romantic inspiration, Lara decided to catch a ride with one of the rig workers headed up to Fort McMurray, which was where Josh was working a three week stretch. She called his boss and got the hotel and room he was staying at.

She’d stopped in the lobby’s bathroom to touch up her makeup, make sure her hair looked fabulous, long dark locks falling past her shoulders; she adjusted the neckline of her shirt for maximum cleavage (now that she wasn’t in the cab of a pickup with a 50 year old rig pig) and went up to Josh’s room.

Getting the key to the room had been easy; she’d simply shared the details of her plan with the giddy and romance-starved girl at the front desk, who confided that she shouldn’t really give her a key…but…

She swiped the keycard. The light on the door flashed green. She opened the door.

For a moment, she’d assumed that the front desk girl had given her the key for the wrong room. She’d laughed with embarrassment and covered her mouth and then eyes, apologizing and turning to go…and then she did the double take.

There is little in the universe that can equal the shock of walking in on your boyfriend already engaged in the very thing you came to surprise him with. It completely inverts your world, turns everything upside down. You lose your center of gravity. Now, you’re not only thousands of miles from the place where you have roots, but you’re stuck in a city where you have nowhere to stay…a city known for easy access to drugs, alchohol…whatever.

Suddenly, you want a drink. Worse than you have in a long time. All because...Josh is hot. Too hot.

She nearly fell completely apart in that moment. Later, she had difficulty remembering how she got back down to the lobby. She knew she was crying, because she could hear someone sobbing…and she assumed it was her. The girl at the front desk turned out to be more than just a helpless romantic…she was also a bit of a Samaritan. Lara had crashed at her apartment that night.

When your life gets that messed up, finding a massive ash tree in your new place of work on a Saturday morning doesn’t really seem all that earth shattering. Even if said tree seems to have tore it’s way into the walls of the building, smashed the second-level balcony to kindling and completely obliterated over half of the coffee machines.

So when Andrew whispered ““This definitely trumps having the covers ripped off,” Lara’s cherry red lips curved ruefully into a smirk and said, “Not really, no.”


the philosopher one said...

I have been waiting for the gratuitous sex scene...and the baby looked at me...

Blarg said...

So when does this become a script? Dibs on the part of Andrew! Fringe anyone? And no, I don't know how I would do the giant tree growing on stage....yet!

Sir Lunch-a-lot said...

Hmm... the style that you used right at the beginning to give this background on Lara was definitely unexpected, and it seemed like something that is often seen (at least by me) as taboo in writing. However, as this episode progressed, it did not turn out to be what I had initially expected based upon the first bit; a story rather than a description. I really love how you then tied all that together with the previous episode right at the end. Excellent work. I look forward to next weeks installment.

Sir Lunch-a-lot said...

Just one other thought, if Lara is all Goth like, then why would her lips be Red. Wouldn't they most likely be black? Just curious.

Gotthammer said...

There was no gratuitous sex! I sort of picture Magik Beans as a television series...and I don't think that scene would have counted as gratuitous! And no, Andrew and Lara will not be getting it on.

It was a script at one time blarg...and you helped write it. Karl became Andrew...and Caffeinated Incorporated became Magik Beans!

Thanks for the kudos sir lunch-a-lot. The opening is certainly considered a nono in writing, but Terry Pratchett gets away with it all the time, and so did Douglas Adams. The style is intented to feel a bit light and casual at times. And I know a few Goth girls who do blood red lips instead of the black.

the philosopher one said...

Oh Thor I was only kidding. Come on, its me, when am I not kidding? There should be no "nonos" in writing, as long as you are successful at your goal. If your goal was to make me want to a) keep me reading, b) think about the direction of my life and c) avoid recent proposals to open a coffee shop with another Arts undergrad friend of mine, then you have succeeded. This is getting a lot like that recent movie with Will Ferrell where his life is being narrated. That, or you are just supremely good at creating "everyman" characters. This story demonstrates a deep understanding of the Zeitgeist of our time. It is like our souls are being read back to us through your story. The he and she becomes we and so we identify with your story. Keep up the good work Mike.

Sir Lunch-a-lot said...

Douglas Adams... that was exactly the style I thought of when I first read it, coincidentally. I didn't think Terry pratchet, though. Never read anything of his.