Wednesday, January 19, 2005

go, story, go

In between my frezied day of work and mucus, I decided to take a few minutes to give a final polish to the story I'm submitting for consideration for the new US anthology (reworking a pair of earlier stories). I quite like how this one turned out with its little nods to modernity, and when I was in process of developing it I felt that it could stand scrutiny from intelligent readers - but mere moments before sending it off, I felt that it was the trashiest thing ever written.

Maybe it's my weakened state that permitted such an uncharitable thought against myself, because I rarely engage in self-pitying wallowing. But honestly, I am never happy with anything I write and submit, whether for wife or friends to read, or for a competition, or for publication. It is only afterwards when it gets published or if it wins or if it makes my wife smile or my best friend tear up that I feel I've accomplished something. Yes, my work needs a reader to validate it, because if I only write for an audience that is composed exclusively of myself, then what's the point?

After this submission to Rabid Transit, I will forget about the entire thing until a letter comes to tell me 'no' or 'okay'. Truth to tell, I wanted to edit and polish it a bit more but was afraid of two things: first, given my workload, I might not have enough time; and second, that I might 'overwrite'.

“Good morning,” Mr. Henares replied. “What can I do for you gentlemen?”

“We would like to sell,” the stoutest one replied, wiping beads of perspiration from his forehead with a swipe of a ruffled sleeve. “We’ve been waiting for you to open.”

“Ah,” the old merchant said, “And what do you have for me?”

“We have time to kill,” the tallest one told him, offering his hands, palms up. He looked at Mr. Henares with half-lidded eyes.

Mr. Henares shook his head. “You understand, of course, that rates have really gone down. With the new teatros and entretenimientos, people are finding things to occupy themselves with.”

“Certainly, Mr. Henares,” the stoutest one replied. “We will take what you will offer. You are the fairest merchant in all of Ciudad Manila.”

Mr. Henares brought out his tools, brass and glass and wood, and extracted the precise amount of time each young man wanted to sell. They waited patiently as he labeled each vial, heads tilted to the mellow bossa nova tracks that emanated from a pair of speakers from behind the counter. When he had finished putting everything away, he gave them their payment, wrapped in blue encaje.

The three young men opened the package then and there, much to the discomfort of Mr. Henares. The tallest one took out the Planet Hollywood shot glass and read aloud what was written around the logo, as his two companions unabashedly held hands and closed their eyes.

Silence is foolish if we are wise, but wise if we are foolish


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