That description fits the 1953 Western Shane and the 2013 martial arts movie Once Upon A Time in Vietnam.
Greg T. -- i liked the story, but i believe there are some aspects of it you could change to make it more affective. dialogue was the main problem. you need more dialogue between you and the first two characters. without it, they weren`t believable. you observed a lot about them (physical traits, enviroment, etc.), but i found it hard believing they were real people. put life into them. that`s your job as a writer. it could be my opinion, but descriptions don`t make characters affective. actions do. i enjoyed the incorporataton of fairy tales into the encounters with the characters. it put a refreshing twist on the story. sometimes i felt it was a little vague. incorporation, like the kind you did in your story, is hard. to make it affective, is twice as hard. my suggestion to you would be to work on clarity and fluidity. your puncuation was pretty good overall, but watch how you use those commas. one problem i saw was with placement in between adjectives describing a noun. if the adjective describes the noun separately use a comma. if it doesn`t there`s no need. spelling was also a problem in a few places too. i have the same problem. work on it. the best advice i can give you is read, read, read! great books are never hard to find. learn from the masters. good luck! p.s. don`t take what i say too seriously. i don`t. Victor Z -- Very interesting and entertaining story. I specially enjoyed how you mingled the magical characters in our more mundane world. Just a couple of observations. There are a few sentences that you begin with "and", cardinal sin. There is also once sentence that I`ve reprinted below that needs to be reworked. You`ve linked to many things together with too many "ands". And the shelves were covered with German cuckoo clocks and kissing Dutch tots and glass kittens cleaning themselves and ceramic figurines of anorexic faeries holding flowers and golden angels blowing trumpets and purple plastic Happy Meal gorillas and three issues of Popular Mechanics and a broken remote control for a TV that`s been gone 15 years and more ceramic figurines and glass hearts and fake orange flowers and wooden clothespins. You`ve got an imaginative and entertaining style, good luck with your story. Betty A -- I like it! However, I do find many "ly" ending words and suggest they be removed or find a method to use vivid verbs to replace them. Also, I noticed many tense shifts as "pull" should have been pulled. Overall a delightful story. David E -- Rob, the writing is definitely of professional standard. The idea is terrific. But the criterion that matters in any fantasy is the reader is able to suspend disbelief during the course of the story. Too much weirdness, too quickly, spoils the taste. Somebody clever once told authors that they should be content with "one big lie" in each story. I was sucked in totally by the troll, but had lost the plot by the time I got to the temptress. I genuinely think you`re on to a terrific idea. But I also think that any one of your favourite weirdos would make a better story than the whole lot put together. Incidentally, I think your last line is very, very good. Michael F -- I enjoyed this story because of its satisfactory blending of the mundane and the fantastic (meals on wheels being delivered to goblins, etc.). I often find the everyday world feels fantastic and supernatural when you really look at it in a certain way, so there was something pleasing about the way the author mixed the two. I also appreciated the author`s basic prose skills. Northrup is obviously a very experienced writer or a very talented beginner, because the prose flowed smoothly and never felt over or under-written. There were no howlers, groaners or reaching for effect. It takes either a lot of practice or a tremendous amout of raw talent to write prose that seems so effortless. What I found wanting in the story was -- to put it simply -- a story. Once the author set the scene I waited for something to happen that would engage me or make me care what was going to happen next. I know that many writers are mood or language oriented and disdain plot, but I find that the best mood pieces have some kind of dramatic tension underpinning them, and I felt the lack of that here. Despite the good writing and engaging, imaginative locale described, I found my mind wandering about 3/4 of the way through, because there was no realy story to engage me. However, I do appreciate the talent and skill that went into this work, and the piece worked for me 75% even without a story, which is saying something. Larry S -- Things of note: >this wide flowering shrub A mention of type of shrub perhaps ... this seems kind of flat (I do it often myself). >And the shelves were covered ... This is one whopper of a sentence. I could have read it better had it been broken up a bit. >Strong girl if you carry goats for me I guess I hadn`t guessed the narrator was a girl up to now. Was that intentional? >The trailers near the front of Sunshine Court This paragraph contained what I thought was well done description. General Impression: You have some passages that give very good description. I think you help engage sparks of imagination in all of us. I believe the story may have began better if the troll`s existence was dropped on the reader almost immediately. He/she would then have known right away that this story held something unusual. I didn`t see enough dialog to comment much. The characters could have been described more. I was well into the story before I had any vision of the main character, and only received scant details of most other characters. Thanks for the excursion into the land of imagination. gina F B -- I thought this was a great story. Very imaginative with the right abmount of reality mixed in to make it totally believable. I thought the voice of the narrator was great, the language used was perfect. I really liked all the imagery and dialogue. The part where you used the run-on sentance to describe the trolls nik-naks was perfect, really gave the impression of a crowded junk shop. In my opinion the section with the 150 year old woman and the troll were the best. For some reason I didn`t think the middle shut-in was as developed as it could have been. I liked your ending, thought it fit really well.
SINGLE WICCAN FEMALE (SWF), 22, seeks fangboy, not too ripe (15-25), for nocturnal adventures, trading notes on the occult lifestyle. Other interests include indie film, hiking, making candles. Leila, #1332.This ad caught my eye cause I was in the right age range, sorta. I asked Tod, "Nocturnal means night-time, right?" He said, "Yeah, lemme see," and took the paper. "This one, nocturnal adventures? Sure that looks good. At the start of the ad she sounds like she might be too much for you, but if she's into movies and hiking and candles, she ain't much to worry bout." "So, um, should I study up on racing movies so she'll think I'm into em too?" "Racing-? No, man, that's independent movies. She likes little arthouse movies and French shit that nobody else goes to see. Naw, don't study up on that shit. If you don't know anything about it, that makes her feel like an expert in her field. Don't worry about any her interest, Dennis. The kinda people that write these ads can't get a date with anybody they work with or people they know, so they take a little time out from their desperate masturbating to write a ad. You could be a young Republican stockbroker that never watches movies, has asthma attacks on hikes and gets hives from candle smoke. She'll still snuggle her ass up to you, as long as you seem like you read vampire books." "Tod, what's a Republican again? That's like Nixon, right?" "Yeah, like Nixon. They're the bad guys. Aw shit, you don't even know who the presidents were the last twenty years. If she talks about anything like that, just say you don't follow politics. Or sports. And you don't watch much TV or movies. "I'm tryin to think of shit she might talk about that would blow your cover. Uh, Clinton, the president right now is Bill Clinton. A lot of people hate him, but he kinda admitted he smoked weed in college, so he's okay." "No shit?" "What else is big, lemme think. . .Russia fell apart. They're alright now, for the most part. Umm, wars -- you need to know about the Gulf War. Irock is this country in the Mid-East. Dude: we tore their shit up. It was like a hundred thousand of them died and only two or three hundred of us." "Wow. Hey, what happened about Nam?" "Oh, they finally just got sick of us getting stomped so they pulled our guys out and the Commies took over." "Wow. What else? I won't be able to remember all these wars! What can I do?" "No, that's about all really. Other than that, it's just invasions like Grenada and Panama, uhh, something around South America, um, the Falkland Islands, that's the one. . ." "Okay, so we had a war in Irock, we surrendered in Nam, and we invaded South America and where else?" "Forget it, forget it. You're fifteen, you don't have to know any of that. She'll think most of that happened while you were in diapers. What we gotta do that's more important is teach you to be a modern day fifteen year old kid." So Tod put the radio on this buzzing shit and he started digging through his guest bedroom closet and pulling stuff out for me. I asked if the speakers on his hi-fi were blown, but he said that's the way the music is these days. He yelled at me to pay attention to it, but the only good ones were Sheryl Crow and Blues Traveller. (Is that what they call "Blues" these days?) After I complained enough, he turned it to a "Classic Rock" station (Ha!) and said I could claim I like that stuff. "Tell her you listen to your parents' old records, Beatles and Hendrix and The Doors and whatever." "Bachman-Turner Overdrive, man!" "No, look, you don't want to sound like too much of an expert when you're only 15. Just mention a couple bands, not too many." Tod tossed a black turtleneck and black slacks on the bed, then thought better of it and put back the turtleneck. "That Goth shtick is about worn out. How's this?" He held a blue-gray shirt that would make me look from a distance like a bare-chested zombie. I put it back in the closet for him and rummaged through on my own. "I just need advice on how to pick up women, Tod, I don't need you to dress me." A lot of the crap in his closet was silly stuff I wouldn't wear: a cop's uniform, dresses, skirts, t-shirts from rock concerts by demonic sounding bands like "Tesla" and "Motorhead" and "Styx." On one side wall of the closet there was even a suit of blue and orange fur. Tod said he lost the bulldog head somewhere along the way, but it had come from a high school football mascot. She had worn leotards under the mascot suit so her movement wouldn't be restricted. The leotard he kept in a more special place. Finally I found a white dress shirt with a strange collar, just straight up like a priest's collar. Kinda like the collar on a Nehru jacket.. It was too big for me, but that just made it baggy around my chest and blousy around the arms. Tod said baggy pants were stylish these days, but he wasn't sure about shirts. "That don't matter. I like it. Now what's next. Will you call her for me?" Tod said, "Don't be fuckin stupid. You want me to kill her for ya too? Don't even gimme that look. It won't happen. Just take her ad and call the number and work off the ad. "Come on, let's get right to it," Tod said, waving me through the kitchen and into his big living room with the vaulted ceiling. He bumped me onto the end of his pillowy brown couch, right next to the phone. "Just look at the ad and tell her shit about yourself that the ad makes you think of."\ I looked over the ad again and said, "Okay, so I'll dial this number and say HI, can I speak to Leila? And-" "It's gonna be a recording. Christ, you're a walking flashback. Listen, man, it's a recording. Everything's a recording these days. You'll call this number and you'll hear a sexy, plastic, secretary voice tell you 'Hello and welcome to the Meridian Greensheet's VoiceBox Dateline.' Then it'll tell you to press a button for men seeking women or a different button for women seeking men or couples seeking swingers or weirdos seeking pets. You type in her number and it'll play you a little message of hers, prob'ly word for word what her written ad said, and then it'll beep and you'll say: . . ." Tod rolled his hands at me like beckoning more words out of me in a game of charades. "Um, okay, I say Hi Leila, um, I saw your ad here, in the Greensheet. Okay, about me, I'm uh 15 and I have curly light brown hair and green eyes-" Tod stopped pacing to say, "We're gonna change your hair, Dennis, so don't tell her that." "No, you're not! My hair is fine like this! Jenny always liked it!" "Fuck, man, Jenny was twenty years ago. You're way outta style. She's gonna be lookin for a young Tom Cruise and you're gonna show up with a lopsided afro like you're tryin to be Peter Frampton!" "Who's Tom Cruise? No, never mind. I'm keepin my hair like this and that's all there is to it." "Fine, whatever." Tod was pacing again. I stared at the ad, repeating, "Hi Leila, saw your ad in the Greensheet. My name's Dennis. I'm five foot six, CURLY LIGHT BROWN HAIR and green eyes, and what else do I say? I don't know what to tell her, Tod." "Look at the ad and talk about it. Say you like candles even when it's not a candle-light dinner, and you like going out late at night. Just follow it down the list of shit she says and think of how they might involve things you like to do. What's the first words on her ad?" "Single wiccan female. What's wiccan?" Tod turned from his east-west pacing route across the living room to drop to his knees in the pillowy brown La-Z-Boy and slam his fist on top of the chair back like a moslem angrily bowing towards Mecca, hollering, "Jesus Henry Christ on a pogo stick! You're hopeless! There's no fuckin way! How can I teach you all this shit to stay in character like a modern 15 year old when you're so fuckin flighty and useless! It's not that you're stupid, man, I know you got some brains clattering around in there. But the only fresh knowledge they seem capable of picking up is fuckin Mario Superkart and what your stinky, old, dead hippy bands created after you settled in for your God damn li'l beauty sleep!" I put my chin on my fists and pouted at that point, but couldn't stay mad when he jumped off his big chair to face me and screamed, "No more Credence! You don't play any more of my fuckin Credence albums for the rest of this year, you got it?! I ain't no Fortunate One havin to listen to you play that fuckin 'Down on the corner! Out in the street!' fuckin over and over! I don't wanna hear some funky Dixieland, pretty mama com and take me by the hand!" He was actually caught up in the song with all his raving, so I jumped up and tried to sing the low part without my voice cracking: "By the hand (hand) take me by the hand (pretty mama!) Dance with your daddy all night long!" Tod wouldn't have it. "No," he told himself, walking across the coffee table and arm chair, "it don't matter. This ain't rocket science, it's just trappin beaver. Even you can handle this. Get down off there! Like I need your damn dirty shoes up on my God damn davenport." "What's a davenport?" Tod shoved me down on the sofa again and explained, "A Wiccan is a person who practices the religion of Wicca. The religion is basically an excuse to say God is a woman. They claim that witches have worshipped nature spirits and the Great Mother Goddess for a million years, so they burn candles and incense and sing and dance and wave wands and enjoy their menses. (Don't fuckin ask me what menses is, boy, go talk to yo mama!) It also fits perfectly with feminism, by coincidence. So anyhow, the ones I've met are either way into feminist politics -- which means they're as friendly as a cold pick axe -- or they're the type that wants to dance nekkid in the woods. That's what your babe here sounds like. "You don't need to know everything about how it works, cuz she'll clue you in and probably want to convert you. Man, really, I can't be there on your date to help you out. So I'm just gonna walk out of the room, let you make the call, and you'll stand or fall on your own merit. Okay?" After five minutes I went into his bedroom to find him trying to read Rolling Stone. He said, "Well?" "Do you think I should say Hi or Hello at the start of the call? Or should I be cute and say Howdy or something?" ... ... EPILOGUE Leila peeked around the corner of her cubicle after Mr. Jeffries settled into his office for the morning. She ducked low so her topknot wouldn't be seen floating over the tops of the cubicle walls, and snuck over to Tina. She couldn't really confide in her middle-aged co-workers about her strange nightlife. But Tina was young and hip and had to take the ring out of her eyebrow before coming to work every morning. "Tina!" she whispered, leaning around the wall. "Yeah, how'd your date go with the teeny bopper?" Tina said, still staring at the document she was entering data from beside her terminal. When Leila said nothing for a moment, Tina turned to face her. Leila was pulling back her black turtleneck and showing a big bruised scab a the place where her neck met her collarbone. "He gives the most righteous hickeys!" END.
First Frame. Lane One. Tim listened to the conversation being held on the opposite end of the table from him. The magazine in front of his face had been open to the same page for the last ten minutes. "The way I know about it," the woman with black hair continued, "is a friend of mine, Jenny Crenshaw, she had a problem like that." The woman facing her across the table, a red-head, nodded. This was the one who commanded most of Tim's attention. The air rumbled for a moment, then clattered and returned to normal. "This was when she was a carpenter. Anyway, she was using a nail-gun, halfway up this ladder. She was holding the one board-" here the talker pantomimed what she was describing, "-and stuck the nail-gun up against it between her fingers. But the nail hit a knot in the wood, so it came up and around through the board, and back through her thumb. Her thumb was actually nailed to the board." The red-head cringed. She leaned towards the table, listening intently. Her movement did wonderful things to her shoulders and light reddish-blonde curls. In fact, Tim thought, the movement did wonderful things to her whole torso. Her face, bright and expressive, set off happy gears inside Tim's head. He could see the profiles of both girls from where he sat at the end of the table. He nudged his glasses back up his nose and peered over his magazine. A softer rumbling spread for a long moment, followed by a quiet knock, the sound Larry and Curly's heads make when Moe cracks them together. "And the nails they use have barbs so they won't pull out easy. So she couldn't pull the nail out and slide her thumb off. She had to cut the head off the nail and jerk her thumb back the rest of the way." "Eeeuw," the red-head said. "Only her cutters were on the ground next to the ladder. So this guy that's been watchin it all comes up and picks up the cutters and starts laughin at her. Well, she grabs the claw hammer from her tool belt with her free hand, hooks the claw under this bastard's collar, and lifts him off the ground. (She was the Southeastern California Women's Weightlifting Champion.) So the asshole stops laughin and she drops him and snatches the cutters out of the air. Then she cuts off the nail-head and yanks her thumb off it." "Jeez," the red-head added. Another loud burst of rumbling sounded before an explosion of clattering. Content with finishing her story, the talker grabbed some M&M's off the table and popped them in her mouth. The tattered ends of her black hair fell onto her faded denim jacket. A black patch on the shoulder of her coat read, "MEGADETH." "Tim!" The girls both turned to face him. Tim looked back at them in shock. Then a hand clapped on his shoulder and the girls turned back toward each other. "How the Hell have you bee?" a familiar voice asked. Tim couldn't place the face right away. The crew cut was different, but the round, boyish face and beady brown eyes reminded him. "Perry?" A few images played through Tim's mind before he could remember whether to be glad to see Perry. A fist- fight in third grade. Lazy games of baseball in high school gym class. Laughing through English. "Uh, what's up?" The smiling hooligan flipped a chair around backwards beside Tim and leaned his chest over the back of it. "Not much, man, not too damn much." The hard plastic chair was an old contoured style, with a wide, curving seat that dug into Perry's thighs. But comfort wasn't his concern. "How 'bout yourself?" "Oh, uh, not a whole lot, just hanging out after work." Tim set the magazine on the table. "You workin here? I didn't know you were big into bowling." As he spoke, Perry drew a pack of cigarettes from the pocket of his flannel shirt. He poked the pack toward his face and caught a stubby, brown cigarette between his lips. "No, no, I'm an assistant librarian downtown. I don't bowl much." Tim crossed his arms and added, "No thanks," when Perry held out the pack. A ball thumped and rumbled down a lane, then slid into a gutter. Someone grumbled, "God-" and trailed off muttering. Perry fumbled a book of matches from his pocket, nodding. "That's cool. You got a consistent gig there?" After lighting his cigarette (or is that big enough to be a cigar?, Tim wondered. Do cigars come in packs like that?), Perry rose from his chair and appropriated an ashtray from half- way down the long table. "You're not using this, are ya?" he asked the girls. They shook their heads and Perry returned to his backwards chair. "Yeah, it's a real job. Maybe a half step up from flipping burgers, but I like it." Tim closed the magazine on the table. It was the library's latest copy of Newsweek, with an article about the next Star Trek movie. He hadn't read more than two paragraphs of it in the last fifteen minutes. "Yeah, I come by here after work sometimes before heading home. The coffee from their vending machine here is better than the scum they try to serve at the diner." Perry leaned his forearms on the table, leaving the stogie in a corner of his mouth. "I thought you lived the other side of town, out past the mill?" The stick of brown pulp in his mouth slurred his words a little, so it sounded more like "-out paft the miw?" "Oh yea, I use to, but I'm renting a room from my uncle now. His place is another couple blocks this way from downtown." Tim took a sip from the paper coffee cup and set it back on the table empty. "I had to get away from my parents. I guess living with one relative is as bad as another, but my uncle's okay." "Hey, if you're making enough to get out of your parents' place, you're doing better than a lotta the people we graduated with." Perry tapped ash off his cigarette (or whatever it was he was smoking) and stuck it in the corner of his mouth. "That's what I figure." Tim folded his arms. Perry nodded. Tim glanced at the girls down the table. He returned his gaze to the magazine lying on the table. Perry blew smoke. Tim asked, "So what have you been doing the last few years?" "Fixing toilets in freight airplanes." Tim laughed, but Perry smiled and laughed. Not deadpan enough for it to really be a joke. "It's funny but not that funny," Perry said. "I swear to God, I'm a plumber for the federal government. Figured I'd be a big-time pilot in the Air Force, right? Nothing physically wrong with me, right?" Perry leaned back from the table and spread his arms out to show himself. Tim shrugged. "So what stopped you?" "I didn't even have to finish the whole physical. They let me leave right after the eye exam." "They can't be too bad if you don't wear glasses. Or do you wear contacts?" "No, they're 20/20. But I'm color-blind. Evidently there's something crucial about distinguishing colors for flying. The controls, or identifying enemy aircraft or whatever." Tim nodded. "Yep. That's how it goes. So I've been dumping Liquid Plumber down sinks in Air Force bases and pulling pens and combs out of clogged johns for two years." Perry tapped off more ash and switched the cigarette to the other corner of his mouth. "I was thinking about going all the way and bein' a Lifer, retire at 44, all that. It's not as physical or restrictive as I thought it'd be. But I don't want to be fixin' toilets for the next thirty years." Tim nodded, looking at the magazine. "I'm surprised you didn't go to college," Perry said. "Oh, well, I am, kind of. I'm taking a couple classes here and there at Kensington Community College." "Ahhh," Perry said, making the connection of what Tim meant when he had said, "kind of." "So what are you goin for? Business degree or something?" "No. For now, I'm just taking some music classes. Symphony and Music Composition and Poetry. Just screwin around, you know." Perry nodded as he inhaled. "That's right: you were in Band, weren't you?" "Yep." Tim wondered if Perry would mention the term he used back in school: "Band fags." A rumbling ball smacked into enough pins to make the bowler and his buddies cheer. Tim watched the red-head throw back her head laughing at something. Somehow even the bland fluorescent lights here made her hair flash. She had gray- brown eyes that complemented her light reddish hair, and vaguely reminded Tim of Hobbits. Not that she was particularly short, and he couldn't imagine tufts of fur on her feet. But the colors of her hair and skin and eyes made him think of Fall and trees and the Earth, the elemental images associated with ground-dwelling Hobbits. On the other hand, she was sort of stocky, with the kind of soft, pudgy-looking muscles that always hide surprising strength. She had the build of a volleyball or softball player. Perry took the stogie from his mouth and blew smoke audibly: "Whewww." He clapped his free hand on his knee and asked, "Know where there's gonna be any parties tonight?" Tim shook his head and shrugged, looking down at his magazine for the umpteenth time. "You nerd!" he recalled Perry yelling at him in what must have been a sixth grade Science class. He remembered a time when he had hated Perry, but that feeling mellowed into nothing after a pile of years. They had become, if not friendly, at least tolerant of each other in the years since, eventually talking and joking in some high school classes where the only people they had known were each other. "Know where there's gonna be any parties tonight?" Perry repeated. Tim started to say, "No," when he realized that Perry had asked the girls at the other end of the table. "Actually, yeah," the black-haired girl said. Then she just looked at him coldly. Perry looked back at her for a moment without saying anything, then said, "But will it be any good?" He frowned at her seriously, then raised one eyebrow like an inquisitive Vulcan. His magic worked on both girls, gradually infecting them with smiles, and triggered a boomerang effect that carried a smile back around to Tim. More pins clattered, more people cheered for the strike. The metallic voice of a robot announced, "Countdown intruder," from a video game. The thin woman with black hair leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. Her smile became a cynical grin. "Yeah, it should be pretty good." She resumed her purposeful silence. Perry slouched back in his chair and crossed his arms to mimic her. "Well, what do I have to do to coax it out of you?" "I don't know," she said. "How do I know you aren't going to be some trouble-maker that'll puke on the hostess and pass out?" "He can vouch for me," Perry replied, hooking a thumb over his shoulder at Tim. Tim grunted, "Ha! Until today I haven't seen him in two and a half or three years, but I can vouch for him: if you got a clogged john-" "What he means," Perry interrupted, "is that I have a reputation of honor and dignity, and a character that is untarnished. Right? So he vouches for me and there you go." Tim said, "I would have used the word 'character' differently." The red-head laughed and joined in, "And who's going to vouch for you?" Perry said, "I vouch for him! So, what time does it start and where's it at?" The black-haired cynic tapped her teeth with a red fingernail and said, "I don't know. . ." Perry cocked his head sideways like a puppy dog. Tim sighed with real sadness, feeling this chance slip by. "If nothing else," the red-head breathed, sitting up straight, "they'll keep us amused up until the time they puke and pass out." Tim was giddy, smiling hugely, not quite restraining giggles. Going to the same party as the red-head would be wonderful enough, but "keeping her amused" would require close association. Tim wanted to associate with her as closely as possible. Still tapping them with a fingernail, the cynic now sucked air through her teeth. She squinted in mock concentration, then raised her eyebrows. "Okay."