Joe Van Cleave put out the challenge: write a piece based on A Dark and Stormy Night…
Why this instantly brought Raymond Queneau and his Exercises in Style to mind I do not know. But it did. Quickly I had three pages of small paragrahs. Rather than exercises in style my writing explored characters and scenes. For the Van Cleave exercise the limit is one page so an exercise in editing followed. A few of the entries that did not make the cut follow the image.
For additional fun you might try to guess the literary influences I followed in several of these.
“Another game? Certainly.” We were safe and snug in the solarium. It would have provided a nice view of the night’s storm, had it not been so dark. Never the less the sound and fury was evident. Our only light was the reflection from the red brick fireplace. I looked across the chess table at my host. His eyes were so sad. Surprisingly so in light of his fine gentle demeanor. The grandfather clock interrupted this amusing as it rang too. So late. “It is later than I thought.” “Perhaps a nightcap instead? I have an aperitif well suited to this stormy night. You may find it interesting, called Queneau.”
What did one expect this time of year? Sunshine and cool breezes? Not in these parts. Nah, we got the dark and stormy night. Draws the tourists to the coast, to just sit and watch the storms. One should know not to go out walking on such a night. You can barely see your hand in front of your face. My flashlight was down to a dim, red glow. “Hey, you lost?” I was in fact, or so I thought. I was behind the bar on the beachfront. A woman out on the smoking porch invited me to get out of the cold. The clock inside showed 2:00. “Are you required to close at two?” “Sure, but I doubt the cops will be out to enforce that tonight. Besides, we’re closed except for friends. Here, have this new stuff. It’s a real warmer, called Queneau.”
Under the bridge, nice to be here where I like it. This night! Christ what a stormy night! So dark it’d be useless to forage food from dumpsters. Here I can stay dry and … what the … oh. Red lights flashing meant the do gooders were here to pack us all off to shelters. I’m fine here. I refused. I refused everything until they left, even the sad eyed one who almost convinced me. I’m gonna be fine here. This night I’ve got a new bottle stolen from the liquor store. It’s called Queneau.
“I like storms. I like darkness, you know? This night, I’ve longed for it my whole life. It’s a perfect dark and stormy night …” Jesus. How did I end up on a date with this thinks he’s really goth cool romantic weirdo? There doesn’t seem to be any escape from this cheesy place. At least the storm is outside. Electric faux fire place, red lanterns on the tables. Yuk. A sad eyed waiter came by the table “Your fiest digestif my good sir,” the bore ordered. The waiter tilted his head, “certainly.” He returned with two snifters. “A very unusual item. I’m sure you’ll find it agreeable. It is called Queneau.” The bore bolted half down, then slumped, passing out. “Miss, shall I call a cab for you?” He winked and added “roofie for him, road for you.”
Arrgh! Another wave broke over the bowspirit. It truth, it made no difference. I’d been soaked through on this vile dark and stormy night since my watch started. What a useless watch. Can’t see a thing in this weather. Even the red glow from the steam stacks amidships were hidden by this blasted storm. Striding about to try and keep warm I almost knocked over the watch relief. Tow bells at last! Davey looked sad and I couldn’t blame him. A quick trot and I was soon in the mess. The cook handed me a grog mug. “Ship doctor’s orders. Drink this right up. It’s to keep you from getting sick, something called Queneau.”