Short Story: Mr. Green (Part 2)

The Man in the bowler hat, 1964 L’Homme au Chapeau Melon, 1964

(This Story is 4,500 words long, reading time is approximately 18 minutes. For Part 1 of the Mr. Green series, click here.)

Mr. Green

(Part 2)

Charles Benson leaned forward at his desk and ran both of his hands through his thinning hair. It was much more grey than black these days. His top two advisors sat in black leather chairs on the other side of the office.

All three of them stared at the flat screen TV that hung on the wall. The 10 o’clock morning news segment had just begun. A young woman with the back posture of a flagpole took her seat behind the news desk, arranged a stack of papers, and began in a somber tone:

“Investigators have yet to ascertain any serious leads in the collapse of a major intersection in downtown Singapore over the weekend. A subway tunnel collapsed, causing the streets aboveground to cave in. Whole sections of roads, sidewalks, and even buildings were pulled into the hole caused by the tunnel collapse. The death count is currently at 92 and still rising. The number of injured is over 300.”

A video in the top right corner showed a helicopter’s view of the disaster. The intersection was barricaded off on all sides by police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances. It looked like a black hole had opened up beneath the city and swallowed everything in it’s reach. Whole sections of nearby buildings had been broken off and pulled into the gaping hole, like a flooding river pulling off chunks of the river bank.

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7 Things I Learned From Walter Mosley: Tuesday, July 28th

When I’m stuck for things to write about, when I’m stuck for writing inspiration, I usually turn to traveling down the youtube rabbit hole. “Author interview”, “writers on writing”, and “Charlie Rose author interview” are my favorite searches.

This time around, I got drawn into an author named Walter Mosley. He is captivating speaker, easy to like, easy to listen to. I wasn’t planning on it, but pretty soon I was taking notes on everything Mosley was saying.

It’s a lovely thing to grab on to the wisdom of someone who’s put their whole life’s work into a craft or a pursuit. And I can just take all of his advice for free! It’s too good to be true…

Here are 7 things I learned from Walter Mosley:

1) The Writer’s Spirit: Mosley likens writers to explorers. He says that with every new character, writers are exploring the possibilities for new matter, new subjects.

2) Regarding Character: Novels are about the development of character. It’s how my character comes into the world, how they affect the world, and how the world affects them. They have to change. They have to find out something.

3) Windows into Other Worlds: A writer’s job is to answer the question, “what’s it like?” For example, “What’s it like to be a boxer in the ring?” “What’s it like to be a detective?” “What’s it like to be at sea for 90 days?”

4) Regarding Character and Conflict: Sometimes in books, you have a character (especially in the thriller or mystery genre) who is traveling down very straightforward path. For example, the detective is looking to solve a murder; or, the lawyer is trying to solve the case. But really, Mosley says, life is not that simple. In real life you have a lot of things, a lot of problems going on. It’s a lot of things coming together to create a much larger affect on the character. It’s not just that they have one, straight track to follow, or one single conflict to solve.

5) Writing Routine: Mosley claims that he writes 1,000 words a day. The next morning, he briefly edits that 1,000 words, then he writes the next 1,000.

6) Writing Schedule: His schedule is to write every day for about three hours, usually from from 6am to 9am, or from 7am to 10am. Mosley says, “Writing is almost a place of dreams for me. I do my writing early in the morning before most people are even up and going. Then for the rest of my day, I can go about my normal life. I don’t have to think about writing again until tomorrow.”

7) Regarding Younger and Older Generations: Mosley says, “The older you are, the more you live in the past.” A lot of older people get upset at young people, saying they’re shallow or selfish or whatever. Young people live exactly today, in the immediacy of their world. It’s important for old people to realize that a lot of their notions are no longer valid. They have to remember that young people are living in the now – for now it’s all they know.

Short Story: Mr. Green

The Man in the bowler hat, 1964 L’Homme au Chapeau Melon, 1964

(This story is 1,899 words long. Reading time is approximately 9 minutes.)

Mr. Green

All spring long, rain had flooded the city streets. The Pacific winds had battered down the most ambitious of outdoor gatherings. The highly anticipated cherry blossoms had come and gone in less than a week, struck down nearly as quickly as they could bloom. Weathermen were calling it the “meanest” spring in Japan’s recent history.

The citizens of Tokyo, in particular, bore the weather with their usual grace and stoicism. But by late May, even the bubbliest of kids were finding it hard to laugh or play. 

And that’s why on Sunday, June 7th, when the sun rose high in the sky, smiling like a long lost friend, and the temperature soared to 25 degrees, the busy people of the city were quick to drop their sundry obligations. They staggered outside, as if in a dream, to lift their eyes to the sky and admire their sudden change of fortune.

The families and the couples, the young men and the groups of chattering teens, the food stand vendors and the cab drivers and even the government officials poured out of the buildings and into the streets, the parks, the rooftops, the plazas and the wide open spaces. The few remaining cherry blossoms tried their hardest to shine as pink and as purple as possible. And old Mt. Fuji gazed out across the city, her white crown top looking as fluffy and friendly as a dollop of cream.

Down in Ueno Park, families came to spread their blankets and pitch their day tents. Kids ran wild on the play structures and parents lounged in the grass. The riverside vendors pulled their dusty canoes and picnic tables out of storage and into the sunlight. Young couples paid cash to rent colorful boats shaped like swans, which floated along the banks and left everyone feeling young in their wake.

But in the midst of all this unexpected joy, a young boy’s life was erupting into sudden turmoil.

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