The exercise from today’s Fiction Writing class:
Write an interaction between two characters. One must be on the other side of a window, i.e. a bureaucratic or service industry position.
“Welcome to hell. Got a form of ID?” the woman looks like she hasn’t moved for centuries. The chair beneath her creaks from years of neglect and severe lack of WD-40 and the thick glass separating her from the line of new arrivals is unwashed and cloudy. Her voice is flat, monotone, and Bostonian in dialect.
“Uh…” the new arrival stumbles forward and rests his hands on the marble counter. “I have a driver’s license?”
“That’ll do,” the woman sliders a bar at the base of her window and points at the newly exposed tray. “Her eyes do not move from their fixed position, staring at the computer screen. “Put it in the tray please.”
He pulls a slightly damp wallet out of his back pocket and removes the laminated ID, placing it gingerly on the tray. The woman slams the bar to the side and picks up the card, glancing at it and then typing at her computer keyboard with red manicured fingernails. Her skin matches them.
“Luke Atkinson?” she says, still not looking up.
“That’s me,” he says.
She slides the driver’s license back through the window. “Double homicide?”
The woman rolls her eyes and speaks more slowly, glaring up at the ceiling. “Were you in the double homicide?”
He looks perplexed. “I was at the bank where it happened, but I just took a bad fall is all, in the commotion. This is, well, it’s a dream, right?”
The woman rolls her eyes again and sighs pronouncedly. Then she taps at her keyboard. “Take this slip when it prints,” she says, pointing at a slot to the left of the window. “You’ll receive Form H-1 in the Minos room, which is down the hall, second door on the left, not the right, that’s employees only. After you get that slip stamped go to the basement level, down the stairs. Charon Express will take you from there.”
“But,” the man stammers. “I don’t understand, I’m just asleep.”
“Sir,” the woman finally looks over at him. Her eyes are black and empty, a bleak void, and he shudders. “Take your slip and go down the hall second door on the left, or I will ask security to escort you. NEXT.”
“But, but, this can’t be right!” the man’s eyes widen and fill with a primal fear. “No, no no, this is wrong! I’m alive damnit! Alive!”
“Security to Window Four please,” the woman presses a button at the base of a microphone in front of her.
“This isn’t right!” the man cries as two burly red-skinned men in expensive suits take him by the arms. Small black horns protrude from their foreheads. “No! It’s a mistake! I’m not dead!”
“Yeah, yeah,” the woman rolls her eyes and returns to her computer. “You should be so lucky. NEXT.”
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