Yesterday I promised a piece (which was an exercise at the VCFA Novel Retreat) using an objective correlative, or an object or some such about which a story is centered. The exercise was to write a complete one page story set in a rest room, the idea being that, set in a strange environ, new, fertile ideas would likely come into play in creating the story. Mine used a central character from a novel I’m currently writing – a period piece set in the U.S. of the 1960s.
Readers: Where do you see the objective correlative? Why did you choose this? Any other comments?
The filling station rest room wasn’t Adam Claypool’s first choice, but when his gut rebelled like this, it was find a place, any place within the bounds of decorum. No exhaust fan, and the last guy in must’ve just dined on barbecued brisket and bourbon. But the good thing? It forced on Adam a moment to think. He wanted this kid, Dennis, to hand off some of his engineering workload to, but wife Cheryl was pressing him to keep Nate, the black kid with the militant attitude.
He cleared the dark, fetid stall, stepped to the lavatory to wash. The light over the mirror was bright, too bright, it seemed. Odd. Why would anyone want this much light in such a shithole? And the mirror—it was marbled with arabesques of color, managed only by cracks begetting cracks. And so at first he didn’t see it: a small bump, but then he knew it was another skin cancer.
Why? he wondered. He didn’t abuse his body, he exercised regularly, ate the right stuff, and made regular doctor’s appointments. Still, he knew by now it was something he couldn’t placate or run from. It was genetics. That fact failed to console, though, and that was the way he was beginning to feel about his construction company. Small, efficient as such companies go, but he could no longer avoid the complications of managing a growing business. Dennis and Nate. He only needed one, but to hell with it, he’d show Cheryl. He’d hire them both.
A fist banging on the restroom door. A block of a man stood at the threshold, his size preventing the summer sunlight from blinding Adam.
“You done?” the man asked.
“For now,” said Adam. He suppressed a smile at the man’s expression and then he strode toward his car.