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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Finding Geronimo (working title)

   
Author Topic: Finding Geronimo (working title)
babygears81
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So, this isn't a fantasy story. I hope that's ok. I have some questions about the first 13 that I will post at the end so they don't influence your reading. This is less than 300 words if anyone would like to take a look, I'd appreciate the help and am willing to swap if someone has another flash.

I stand next to Geronimo. He stares up at the petroglyphs etched into the burnt orange rock before us. His hair is short and graying above his ears. He wears glasses and a hat embedded with fishing flies. He is the only Indian in the group and the only non-tourist.
I have never met an Indian before. I want to speak to him, but am not sure what to say.
The tour guide drones on but the mountain winds carry his voice in another direction. Geronimo spits tobacco juice into the dirt. He has grown weary of the white men around him and wishes to leave, I can tell. I must speak now, or lose this opportunity. I clear my throat. “S’cuse me.”
He peers at me through the corners of his eyes. “You read them?”


Is it confusing to have the POV character call the man Geronimo right off the bat? The man is not actually Geronimo, but the POV character sees him that way because he's a jerk. I immediately describe the man as wearing glasses and a hat with fishing flies to try and establish that the narrator is unreliable, but I'm not sure if it works. Please let me know if you were confused. All other comments are welcome too of course.

[ December 31, 2012, 12:54 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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History
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I was initially bothered by the use of present tense and the slight uncertainty of POV between the intial "I stand" and then the concentration of the narrative upon "Geronimo".

But with a reread and mental adjustment I got used to it and it reads fairly well. [Wink]

I was then bothered by the depiction of Geronimo as wearing "a hat embedded with fishing flies" and the use of the word "tourist." I had first thought this was the historic Geronimo, then thought not. If not, consider a different name for him;. If it is, I need more sense of time and place such as his post-surrender years late 19th century. He was a great warrior who surrendered to "the white man" and lost far more that his own freedom as an Apache.

Then again, if a flash piece, I'm not sure how much room you have to clarify the preceding.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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babygears81
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Thanks History. I included those descriptions and used the word tourist in an attempt to establish setting within the word count. I was hoping the word "tourist" would lead the reader to assume this was modern day as tourists wouldn't have visited petroglyphs in Geronimo's day. But I guess if I have to explain that, it didn't work. [Smile]

The story is about to twist, showing the reader beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this man is not Geronimo, just a modern day Indian and the narrator is either hopelessly ignorant, or a jerk, whatever the reader wants to take away from it. So, my question is, are you confused enough that you wouldn't wait it out? And can I afford a little confusion in a flash piece, or is that a no no? I'm new to this. [Smile]

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Grumpy old guy
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I'm with History as far as the confusion about the name and time period, but I kept reading. What did pull me up short was the three consecutive paragraphs beginning with 'He': He peers . . .. He turns . . .. He looks.

Also, I don't get any feeling that the guy looking at the Indian is a jerk, other than him labelling the native American beside him as Geronimo as if its a generic description for Apaches.

Just my thoughts.

Phil.

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babygears81
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Thanks Grumpy old guy! How is this?

I stand next to an Indian. He stares up at the petroglyphs etched into the burnt—orange rock before us. His hair is short and graying above his ears. He wears glasses and a hat embedded with fishing flies. He is the only Indian in the group and the only non-tourist.
I snap a picture of him with my cell phone when he isn’t looking and upload it to Instagram with the caption “I’ve found Geronimo!”
I have never met an Indian before. I want to speak to him, but am not sure what to say.
Geronimo spits tobacco juice into the dirt. He has grown weary of the crowd, or maybe of me, but I can tell he wants to leave. I must speak now, or lose this opportunity. I clear my throat. “S’cuse me.”

[ December 31, 2012, 12:56 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Reziac
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Much as I normally detest 1st person and present tense, this one got me reading it without a hitch. The only point that messed me up is where Geronimo smirked... it seemed to break character. Some less ... outrageous? facial expression seems in order. LOL at his translation!

Otherwise... IMO this is a complete short-short as it stands.

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JSchuler
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The Instagram rewrite brought me out of the original flow.

I think you could get the "jerk" part across with the addition of a single word:

I stand next to some Geronimo.

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babygears81
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Thanks for the comments/suggestions. This isn't the whole story, but almost. [Smile] Thanks again for your help everyone.
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