Whoa…my fiction just showed up in a coffeehouse.
Turning reality into fiction is a blast. Something inspires me, the details of a moment run around inside my head, then—however many months/years later, whenever—these details rematerialize as a scene or two in a story.
Only sometimes, a scene from a fictional story happens in the real world. It’s very cool when it does happen. Our universe rocks.
Today, I ordered a bottomless coffee at Bardo and opened up my computer after sitting down on one of their beat-up couches.
Across from me, a twenty-something kid had been doodling on his sketchpad. I couldn’t see his drawing, but his focus stayed with the page. After a bit, he snapped a photo of his sketching with his phone. From the way he tapped at the phone’s screen, he appeared to be sending the photo of his drawing somewhere or posting it. A minute later, his phone beeped. He picked it up, looked at the message, and burst out laughing. For the sake of my scene below, I hope the message was a response to his drawing.
This little passage happens in the Part One of Revolutionizer Alpha, not too far into it. It explains the origin of the burning flag icon.
Excerpt from Part One, “Low-Yield Nuclear Warheads.”
Sketching passed the time at this convenience store, a lame, lower-tier place. There were no magazines, or even newspapers. Candy and snack choices remained second-rate. Customers primarily bought gas or electricity. His manager rarely mentioned the thin layer of dust on the semi-bare shelves.
The art student sat behind the counter and dinged-up bulletproof window of his part-time cashier job and finished the rendering. A lot of drawing had happened since he started working at this dive of a store three months earlier.
The heavyset twenty-year-old ran his fingers through his shoulder-length black hair and checked out his latest work.
A flag. The graphic on the flag showed a second, burning flag. He drew this on a diagonal, with the pole end pointing to the lower right of the rectangular flag and the flag end aimed at the upper left corner. That flag appeared to be recently lit, the flames climbing upward from the edge of the flowing cloth.
He shifted his sitting position on the rickety stool before adding the final touch to his sketch: identical flames, proportionally larger, in the same position on the larger flag.
What he captured, he liked. A blazing, about-to-disintegrate flag, with a graphic of a blazing, about-to-disintegrate flag. A video of a cryptic press conference and the panelists’ conspiratorial discussion afterward had inspired the idea. After finishing off the rendering, he took a picture of it with his phone and uploaded it to his campus Art Department’s community page.
It got traffic. A few friends forwarded it on right after he posted it. His friend from next door responded within minutes: OMG my fav of yours ever!!!
Her quick response and obvious excitement brought a smile to his roundish face. The woman, who was two years older and on the bigger side as well, majored in Fashion Design and always styled herself out. Between her hair, makeup, and clothing from secondhand stores, she knew how to look good.
Thinking of her also prompted him to remember the late-night talk show host’s opening monologue. A couple of nights ago, the Fashion Design neighbor was going to come over and watch the show with he and his roommates, but got busy.
The cashier/art student rented the split-level, four-bedroom house with five other guys. Their dark hangout TV room in the basement permanently smelled like mold. Above the beat-up couch in the corner, a flat-screen TV hung from the ceiling next to one of four beer neons that adorned the basement walls.
On the night that the Fashion Design neighbor was supposed to come over, the talk show host addressed the rumors. Chilling on a legless, red couch and clad in his blue sweats, the art student watched the opening monologue.
In Burbank, California, the lanky, boyish comedian strutted the curtained stage, splitting his attention between the camera and the human faces in the crowd: “Folks, we got an economy on the verge of crashing, war, top-secret weapons getting stolen or whatever, layoffs all over the place, DC is corrupt.”
The show’s host stopped pacing to finish his next point, fixing the lime-green cuffs on the wide-collared shirt while smirking at the live studio audience. Scanning their faces, mostly tourists, the mid-thirties funnyman said, “But separate fact from rumors. Take the rumor that the environmental saboteur Alfalfa is behind all this, remember: he’s been in jail for the last ten months.”
Looking into the camera, the skinny comedian dropped the goofy expression as he delivered his next line with more energy. “To put this another way: the revolutionary Alfalfa is not Revolutionizer Alpha—now say that three times fast.”
Immediately, he broke into a grin and improvised a tap-dance. Audience members and viewers at home laughed, while saying it three times fast in their heads.
After the show’s closing musical number, the roommates relaxed on the beat-up couches in their smelly basement, smoked weed, and debated the pros and cons of revolutionizing. Here and there, one of the scruffy males would lament that their crew needed to meet more women.
Check out the story site.
If you’re not into #scifi or #fiction but you wear t-shirts, you can get a Revolutionizers t-shirt. Readers: you can sport one of these, too.