Session #4 Assignment – Plot Point Scene

This assignment was to write a scene that establishes an important plot point, in 500 words or less.  I busted the limit but the scene needed more words.

Original submission

The hot and dry summer weather had continued through mid-October, extending the fire season threat a few weeks longer than usual.  This was good for Dennis Gubbins, because it meant a few more weeks in his job as a forest fire lookout. He would have the extra cash he needed to fix his beater truck.   Or, buy some high-quality weed.  His choice was now calling his name from a zip-lock baggie stuffed in the back pocket of his jeans.

The lookout cabin was perched 80 feet from the ground on top of a narrow pyramid of steel framing. Dennis cross-legged on an ancient vinyl-upholstered desk chair close to one of the windows that walled the spartan 12-by-12 space.  He was not looking forward to the end of the fire season.  He liked this job.  In terms of actual work, there was none.  All he had to do was look for smoke and report the location when it appeared.  And, in his experience, it never had.

Dennis picked up a pair of Nikon binoculars from the top of the bookcase and pivoted the chair slowly around in a deliberate, 360 degree scan.  He was bored, as usual.  A tell-tale white-gray plume rising from the trees would jump-start some action.  But, as he expected, there was nothing.  He checked his watch.  Three more hours until the end of his shift.  Time for a break.

He set the binoculars on the table, then reached back and fished out the baggie.  At first, he had balked at the price of the high-octane smoke – 90 bucks.  But Reno, his buddy and preferred supplier, had been convincing. “Dude, trust me.  It’s kick-ass. You won’t regret it.”

He packed the generous bowl of his wooden pipe with a few pinches of crushed, purple-green buds.  The weed was heavily aromatic, a bit funky – layered lemon and sage, a bottom note of dirty socks.  After a few hits, Dennis felt a mild rush of happy energy.  Then twenty minutes later, he began to feel a deep heaviness between the eyes.  Shit.  He didn’t get off work until sundown, and he had to stay alert.

Fighting the urge to nap, he picked up the binoculars and peered through the eyepiece.  Even with the Nikon’s long-distance power, tuning his sight into clear focus was a struggle.  He began another slow scan of the landscape, his drooping eyelids laboring to stay open.

No smoke.  Dennis was relieved that the cosmos had not granted his previous half-wish for a fire to keep him busy.  He leaned back in the chair, binoculars still in place above his nose, looking but not seeing.  Through his contented haze, the heavily forested mountains surrounding the lookout were just an impressionistic wash of green and brown.

Just before he lifted the binoculars off, Dennis caught a glimpse of far-off, rapid movement west of the valley below the tower.  He readjusted the Nikon’s focus, but his vision wouldn’t cooperate.  He was only able to view something that looked like a large animal coming from the pines to the west, moving at high speed in a direct line eastward.  Tan in color, long legs and neck, smallish head, with a hump on its back.   “Hmmm …. I believe we have a camel,” Dennis supposed aloud.   A minute later, another camel, larger and solid black, emerged from the same spot.  It ran in the same direction and appeared to be gaining on the first.

The two camels disappeared, one after the other, into the forest on the east border of the valley.

Dennis waited, watching for more camels, but there were none.  Boredom returned, and within a few minutes, he was dozing.  An hour later, he awoke, remembering the camels.  He concluded that he had been dreaming, and started preparing the paperwork required for the hand-off to the lookout on the next shift.

Had Dennis roused himself 30 minutes earlier, he would have seen the black animal again – walking out of the dense pines, in the direction it had come from – followed a few moments later by the smaller tan version.   Whether he was still intoxicated or not, Dennis would not have mistaken it for a camel this time.  It was missing its hump.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Instructor’s comments:  IN CAPS

Carol,

Nice scene, extremely well written. I very much like the internal work here and how you handle the character in a very authentic, natural way. Nicely done. I have no complaints, just a few quibbles below. miki

The hot and dry summer weather had continued through mid-October, extending the fire season threat a few weeks longer than usual.  This was good for Dennis Gubbins, because it meant a few more weeks in his job as a forest fire lookout. He would have the extra cash he needed to fix his beater truck.   Or, buy some high-quality weed.  His choice was now calling his name from a zip-lock baggie stuffed in the back pocket of his jeans.  GOOD

The lookout cabin was perched 80 feet from the ground on top of a narrow pyramid of steel framing. Dennis cross-legged on an ancient vinyl-upholstered desk chair close to one of the windows that walled the spartan 12-by-12 space.  He was not WASN’T–CONTRACTIONS ARE GENERALLY MORE NATURAL looking forward to the end of the fire season.  He liked this job.  In terms of actual work, there was none.  All he had to do was look for smoke and report the location when it appeared.  And, in his experience, it never had.  SLIGHTLY AWKWARD– AND, FOR HIM SO FAR, IT HADN’T. —

Dennis picked up a pair of Nikon binoculars from the top of the bookcase and pivoted the chair slowly around in a deliberate, 360 degree scan.  He was bored, as usual.  A tell-tale TELLTALE white-gray plume rising from the trees would jump-start some action.  But, as he expected, there was HE SAW –GET AWAY FROM ANY `THERE WAS’ TYPE OF EMPTY FORMATIONS nothing.  He checked his watch.  Three more hours until the end of his shift.  Time for a break.

He set the binoculars on the table, then reached back and fished out the baggie.  At first, he had HE’D balked at the price of the high-octane smoke NO SPACE ON EITHER SIDE OF A DASH – 90 bucks.  But Reno, his buddy and preferred supplier, had been convincing. “Dude, trust me.  It’s kick-ass. I LOOKED UP KICK ASS TO SEE IF IT MIGHT BE ONE WORD–DIDN’T FIND IT –I WOULDN’T USE THE HYPHEN THOUGH SINCE IT’S NOT IN FRONT OF A NOUN You won’t regret it.”

He packed the generous bowl of his wooden pipe with a few pinches of crushed, purple-green buds.  The weed was heavily aromatic, a bit funky – layered lemon and sage, a bottom note of dirty socks.  After a few hits, Dennis felt a mild rush of happy energy.  Then twenty minutes later, he began to feel a deep heaviness between the eyes.  Shit.  He didn’t get off work until sundown, and he had to stay alert.

Fighting the urge to nap, he picked up the binoculars and peered through the eyepiece.  Even with the Nikon’s long-distance power, tuning his sight into clear focus was a struggle.  He began another slow scan of the landscape, his drooping eyelids laboring to stay open.

No smoke.  Dennis was relieved that the cosmos had not HADN’T granted his previous half-wish for a fire to keep him busy.  He leaned back in the chair, binoculars still in place above his nose, looking but not seeing.  Through his contented haze, the heavily forested mountains surrounding the lookout were just an impressionistic wash of green and brown.

THEN Just before he lifted the binoculars off, Dennis caught a glimpse of far-off, rapid movement west of the valley below the tower.  He readjusted the Nikon’s focus, but his vision wouldn’t cooperate.  He was only able to view something that looked like a large animal coming from the pines to the west, moving at high speed in a direct line eastward.  Tan in color, long legs and neck, smallish head, with a hump on its back.   “Hmmm …. I believe we have a camel,” Dennis supposed aloud.   A minute later, another camel, larger and solid black, emerged from the same spot.  It ran in the same direction and appeared to be gaining on the first.

The two camels disappeared, one after the other, into the forest on the east border of the valley.

Dennis waited, watching for more camels, but there were HE SAW none.  Boredom returned, and within a few minutes, he was dozing.  An hour later, he awoke, remembering the camels.  He concluded that he had been dreaming, and started preparing the paperwork required for the hand-off to the lookout on the next shift. 

Had Dennis roused himself 30 minutes earlier, he would have seen the black animal again – walking out of the dense pines, in the direction it had come from – followed a few moments later by the smaller tan version.   Whether he was still intoxicated or not, Dennis would not have mistaken it for a camel–THEM FOR CAMELS?  this time.  It was missing its hump.   THEY WERE MISSING THEIR HUMPS. ? GOOD

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