Aug 31, 2009 by

Read OLAF 1 here

Read OLAF 2 here

Round 3 Challenge: Incorporate the death of a dog into your next passage. It should be no more than 400 words long.

This was trouble. He always said he couldn’t tolerate the whole Facebook scene. Now he was its poster boy. He shut down the desktop.

His niece had set up his Facebook account last week. He forgot to delete it. She’d never asked first for his consent, at least not when he was sober. It was just another reason to quit drinking. Not that he would. Drink was the cause of his problems but also the cure. So he did the next best thing. He headed to sea.

He didn’t bother to call Wade. They’d steamed in last night because it was picking up southwest. It wouldn’t make sense to go back out chasing jumpers. One can’t throw harpoon in that weather. Besides, he wasn’t going out for tuna. He was going out for himself.

He was 50 miles offshore when he sighted a sperm whale. It’d been a good two decades since he’d seen one. They’re sighted in the Gulf of Maine only once every two or three years. He could tell by the blow. A right whale’s blow looks like a V, while a sperm whale blows rearward at 45 degrees.

There’d been strange sightings this summer. A few days ago, a tuna chummer said he “chummed up something biblical.” The crew saw the fish come up in the chum slick and then go down. Maybe a monster mako, maybe a great white. Normally he wasn’t one for signs, but “something biblical” followed by a sperm whale wasn’t something to blow off.

At sunset he jigged for a cod to fry up. Within a few minutes, there was a bite. He could tell by the pull it was a dogfish. Small one. Those green-eyed bastards were everywhere. He hauled the doggie up out of the water, holding it by the jig, and then smashed it with an overhand swing against the hull. You can’t work the hooks out by hand because of the poisonous barbs on their spine.

The impact ripped the hook out of its mouth. No point in jigging for dinner anymore. Puppies travel in packs.

Watching the dogfish float away, his mind soon drifted to bluedogs, then to bluebras, then to Olga. So much for relief in the open seas.

He steamed back towards his desktop. His pride could wait. A message needed to be sent.

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  1. I like the sparseness of this. Keeps things simple and too the point and the actions give us the feelings. Also, the insight into all things fishing is an interesting backdrop for this tale.

  2. If I remember right, Hemingway said writing should be like a glacier. You see part of it above water but you can tell from what you see that there’s a whole lot more below.

    Well done on your latest outside participants entry. I liked the bit about coke and chips being a staple holiday diet for English kids. I didn’t realize we shared common ground.

  3. I’m coming in to agree and disagree. I felt this didn’t keep up the momentum and promise from round two.

    While I am with Dan in loving the backdrop of a fisherman’s life, there is some jargon in there which lends authentic texture, but as someone who doesn’t know anything about fishing it can be disorientating – terms such as “chummer”

    “He always said he couldn’t tolerate the whole Facebook scene. Now he was its poster boy. He shut down the desktop.” … I’m not certain about this and think you probably could have left it out, cashed in those extra words for something else. I’m wondering if you meant your MC (main chracter) had never wanted to be sucked into the whole FB thing and now he was. I’m also not sure on the timeframe … as your MC says it was his neice who set it up from him last week.

    I felt it was just a bit disjointed after the beautiful flow from round two.

    however, I’m with Dan on liking the spareness of your writing. You say quite a lot in very little and don’t burden your story down with heavy metaphors or anything like that. And there is a balance of short and long sentences which give the narrative a good flow.

    I liked the fact your dog was a fish with evil green eyes. The green eyed monster staring back at him through the eyes of the fish?

    And you’ve left dangling another hook. As if we’d except anything less from a fisherman?

  4. Auggie

    definitely a stretch on the death of a dog challenge. but good writing, like a melville fishing lesson.
    so is that what they mean by dogfish head ipa?

  5. Very cool way to bring a “dog” death into the picture. Watch out for the summation, though. A lot of the short, staccato sentences are covering an awful lot of ground with little detail that explores the character’s true motivation.

  6. Green eyed monsters are what we call dogfish. We also call them puppies or doggies.

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