I finished the first draft of my novel Rent is Theft. That sumbitch took 7 years to get through, and unfortunately the second draft will surely be a year or more in coming. One issue I had throughout was feeling like I didn’t have a distinctive voice / personality for my MC Courtney, but through a quirk of foolery late in my process, I found a fun gimmick to use. She started telling stories to her gf, and I thought to myself, Satan, you can make storytelling her thing.
I’ll have to do a lot of work to make it happen earlier in the book, in the parts I’ve written over the last several years. In the meantime, if you want a sample of her storytelling styles, here is an excerpt I amused myself with posting on tumblr. The uncensored version is funny, the censored one is kind of hilarious. The background of the scene is that the characters are living illegally in a building that is getting a heat treatment, and for lack of planning ended up having to suffer through the heat. To get by, Courtney starts to tell stories. This is about someone they know named Graeme, though they call him Grime.
Me and Leimomi drank more water, as best we could. It’s hard to chug when your body is starting to cook like a hot dog. I searched my mind in increasing desperation.
“Erotic Grime thriller.”
“What? Why?,” she asked.
“Because it was the first thing I thought of, and the less we think of that guy sexually, the better. You won’t wanna remember this later and you won’t.”
“Heh. Fuck it, OK.”
“So Grime is a fast-paced computer programming man in the fast-paced world of computer programming. The office is abuzz with activity. It’s crunch time. That’s when a product is about to hit a big milestone and we’re lagging behind expectation, so we all have to work extra hours.”
“Naw, no thanks. Funny I was thinking of myself as part of that world. I never do that, these days. Maybe it was because I’ve been looking at job listings.
Anyway, Grime is burning the midnight oil. He’s wearing his skinny jeans and one of those ‘communist party’ t-shirts that has Karl Marx and Lenin with lampshades on their heads and bottles in hand.”
“Don’t know that one. Hard to imagine.”
“It’s a bright red t-shirt. It shrank in the wash a little bit. Not enough he would throw it away, but a tighter fit than he’d usually go for. In the cold late fall weather his nipples are pressing against the cloth.”
“Yeah, they’re ‘green’ buildings, so management skimps on AC in summer and heat in winter. So Grime is there, nippin’ out, but typing so fast, like Sick Boy in Hackers, green matrix code raining down across his screens. He’ll win the day.”
“Does he have cool sunglasses?”
“Is that hot?”
“We’re all too hot right now, Courtney.”
“His midnight black wraparound shades are ink dark portals to a level of Hell that is pure ice. I think there was one of those in Dante’s Divine Comedy. But yeah, frost is forming on the keys. He has to step back, lest he freeze the whole desk like a liquid nitrogen bath.”
“I can’t imagine it.”
“Point is, he’s sexy action cool. And he thinks he’s alone, but he’s wrong. A sound from several cubicles away makes him leap for the katana at his deskside.”
“Like a ninja sword?”
“Exactly. They let guys have those if they have enough corporate spirit.”
“His blade flashes like blue lightning, but nobody falls to his deadly moves. He sees a guy step into the hall.”
“A guy? Huh. A guy? Are they gonna..? Is there a girl in this one?”
“No way. It’s old school slash, baby.”
“Does that mean..?”
“Yup. So he sees the guy stretching and is embarrassed. He tosses the sword into a nearby cubicle, hoping he isn’t noticed.”
“What’s the guy look like?”
“He’s a silver fox. Name is Michael Haeckel, he’s like six foot four. Not chubby like Grime but not too skinny either. You can tell just because he’s that tall and has big hands, he’s packing *redacted*”
“Whoa. Is he real? Did you used to work with him?”
“Is it OK to make a dirty story about somebody else?”
“I dunno. We’re getting broiled like baby back ribs in here. Ethics can wait. Anyway, Michael was kinda sleepy and started to get *redacted*”
“Can that happen?”
“If you’re sleepy enough and you are packing *redacted* in my story. So the outline of *redacted* is pretty visible in his acid wash jeans, and Grime is like, whoa, shit. He hopes he wasn’t noticed. He lucked out. Michael does notice his situation though and picks up a clipboard fake casual to hold over his *redacted* while he goes to say hi.
‘Hey Graeme,’ Michael says. ‘Hey,’ says Grime. They talk about work, and how other guys don’t have the dedication like they do, to work so late on crunch. Randomly, the subject of donating to charity comes up. All the tech boys do it for tax breaks.”
“It would be better for the world if any of those pricks paid their taxes. Michael mentions that he’s giving to some LGBT charity. Grime says that’s cool, but wonders why Michael feels like that’s a good one. After all, he’s married to a lady and stuff.”
“He says he’s actually bi. One time in college he had sex with a dude and feels like it was beautiful and nobody should be judged for love. Grime is like, cool, but you have been with nothing else but ladies forever. Do you still feel bi?”
“That seems rude.”
“So does the funky bass music starting to play out of thin air – the sounds of love are soon to come. Michael says, ‘Yeah,’ and they have a big moment. Sexual tension in the air so thick you could cut it.”
“Hm. He’s six foot six?”
“Silver fox? Like a furry?”
“Sure, why not? So the guy says, ‘Maybe my wife doesn’t mind if I do stuff sometimes,’ and Grime is like, ‘Oh shit, I’ve never been with a dude before. Is this really happening?’ And Michael is like, take it slow, and they do.”
“Like taking off their clothes slow and stuff, or *redacted* slow?”
“The first one. Michael suggests they just watch each other *redacted* for a few minutes, see how it feels. Grime and him are alone, think it’s funny. Why not take advantage? They *redaaaaaaaacted*”
“Cool. But I can’t *redacted* myself right now.”
“Good. That would be unethical, maybe. I don’t know, whatever. So the guys are showing each other what they got, and Michael is like, ‘Damn, Graham, what you wanna do now?,’ and Grime says ‘Graeme,’ but kinda chokes on it because he’s *redacted* like it’s water in the desert. Oh. reminds me, drink some water, babe.” I did the same, hard as it was.
“So,” I continued, “Grime is *redacted* Michael has to push him back a little and say, ‘Easy there, tiger.’ And that makes Grime all sad because he was fixin’ to experience *redacted* That thing is too magnificent.”
“What’s it look like?”
“It’s like a white dude’s *redacted*, y’know, all *redaaaaacted, includes missile metaphor*”
“Wow. Haha, his *redacted* is the bomb.”
“True. So Michael says he wants to *redaaaaaaaacted*”
“What’s it feel like, for somebody to have their *redacted* on a *redacted* ?”
“Kinda crazy, like you got two *redacted* in a wrestling match, daring each other to make a move, but they can’t. Not without help. So Grime grabs *redacted* He remembers to check in with Michael, because he doesn’t want to lose his privileges. Michael lets him know, yeah, he’s doing it too *redacted*
So he loosens up his grip a bit, and *redaaaaaaaaaaacted*
“Yeah. So they’re *redacted*?”
“Yeah, y’know *redacted* Does that make sense? Anyway, it feels real good. They’re feeling it, because *redaaaacted* lightly while *redaaaacted* tightly.”
“That was a rhyme. You should be a rapper.”
“Oh yeah. That’s a good job. Where do I interview for that one?”
“Sorry.” She drank more water. “Go on.”
“They can’t take much more of it. *redaaacted* so they gotta step back.
So Grime is looking at the big man’s *redacted* and feeling inadequate, feeling like a child. The guy senses his hesitance and says, ‘I like what you got, kid. Let me see that.’ Then he goes down to his knees, taps an office chair to suggest Grime sit down in it. Our boy rolls into position.
He isn’t feeling it that much, like, *redaaacted* But Michael gives him a look, so kind and beautiful like Obi-Wan Kenobi. Then the older guy nuzzles Grime’s *redacted* He feels Michael’s beard on his *redacted* It feels crazy, but he knows he can’t just *redacted* because it would scratch up his *redacted*
Then Michael *redaaacted* Grime is lightheaded, feeling like he might *redacted* at any moment, *redaaaaaaacted*
But then Michael relents, right as Grime is about to *redacted* He leans back and says, ‘You wanna feel this *redacted*?’ He’s gesturing to his *redacted* Grime is speechless. How can he say yes? He’s never done anything like that before. But still, he agrees. Sometimes you hafta jump in the deep end.”
“Whoa. You think Grime would take a *redacted* in the *redacted*?”
“Probably like it better if it was *redacted* but I bet he would. Y’know, it’s just a story though. Grime could have two *redacted* and taste like rose water if we wanted.”
“Two *redacted* and he can *redacted* a furry? OK. Tell me about it.”
“For real? Grime has two *redacted* now? And I’m supposed to get real about the furry thing?”
“You mean he wasn’t really a furry?”
“I guess he could be. What kind of furry do you like? Wolf boys? Horse boys?”
“Um, you said he was a silver fox. And now Grime has two *redacted* and he wants to get a *redacted* in his *redacted* for a first time.”
“Hm. So Grime’s *redacteds* are kinda hanging there, like *redacted* but as soon as the older guy suggests *redacted* they both *redacted*
“Why couldn’t Grime have had two *redacted* instead of the red hands thing?”
“You really picturing that? Because it’s just kinda abstract to me. Hard to call the image to mind, really. For me.”
“I was thinkin’ like what it would feel like to have both in my *redacted* at the same time, be all filled up like that.”
“Damn, baby. I’d like to see that. But I can’t *redacted* right now. It’s too hot.” I took a drink.
“Before I go on, should I describe the fox *redacted* looking like a fox *redacted* or a human *redacted* that maybe has some more hairs on it?”
“What’s a fox *redacted* look like? Don’t do it if it’s real weird. That’s just gross.”
“I don’t know, but I’d imagine they look like regular dog *redacted* which are pretty fuckin’ gross. Moving on then, the silver-furred fox man stood up to his full height, his long human-like *redacted* brushing against Grime’s *redacted* It was time for Grime to *redacted*
They pushed all the printers and folders and three by five cards and highlighters and shit off of the desk, and Grime sat himself there with his legs up in the air. Fox Michael probably made a sound like a fox makes, whatever that is.”
“A howl, probably.”
“Probably he howled. Sometimes a howl is a mournful sound, the baying of bloodthirsty creatures on the moors, singing how theirs is a life of pursuit, of famine and violent feast, and eternal scraping in a social order from which the only escape is death. But for the horny fox man, the howl is of Looney Tunes-esque hubba-hubba awooga-styled lust. He rubs Grime’s *redacted* all over with his big fox paws, giving him little scratches with his short sharp claws. Grime finds that exciting and bites his lip.
Then Michael *redaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaacted*
“What are Grime’s two *redacted* doing?”
“They’re wondering why they only have three *redacted* between them and not four.”
“Three *redacted*? What would that be like?”
“Three *redacted* is good when you’re rubbing them on a regular set of two, because the *redacted* go between each other, don’t butt against each other and get sore. It’s pure sensation, like God intended.”
“Damn. That makes me wish I had three *redacted* Courtney.”
“Would you also like two *redacted*? While we’re handing out body parts, it’s OK.”
“No, I don’t know if I could have *redacted* right. I don’t know.”
“It’s OK, I prefer you with *redacted* I mean, if you have a *redacted* and three *redacted* that might be kinda hard to *redacted* without being like you’re getting kicked in the *redacted* all the time, so you have some decisions to make.”
“I don’t know what to do.” She seemed a little upset.
“It’s OK, babe! It’s just a game.”
“Ugh, sorry. It was just the heat. That would be weird if I was sad about pretend *redacted*”
“Oh good. I love you too much, honey.”
“I’d laugh but it’s too hot.”
“I understand. Do you want me to keep going?”
“Can you? It’s bad in here. Real bad.”
“We’re just trying to kill time. How much time have we been doing this?”
“I dunno. Feels like hours.”
I got up the will to look at the time on my phone. “Oh Christ. It’s only been eleven minutes.” I sobbed once, before I even noticed what I was doing.
“Don’t cry, Courtney.”
“You’re right,” I choked it down. “Gotta conserve my water.” I took another drink. “So Grime is holding his *redacted* together loosely, one palm over the *redacted* kinda *redacted* so he doesn’t *redacted* before the fox even gets started. Michael *redaaaaacted*”
“Maybe I should be doing Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”
“I guess we’re already here. And I’ll have time to get through the whole fucking Grimm Brothers catalog.” I almost cried again.
“It’s OK. You can stop, and we’ll just…”
“No, no. I can do this. So Michael has his *redacted* all *redacted* It’s *redaaaaacted* I think if Michael is basically so humanoid his *redacted* looks like a *redacted* he’s gotta have a tail and an animal head. So his tail is wagging like a happy dog and his face is all, again, awooga awooga. You know, like a cartoon wolf when he sees a hot chick.
Meanwhile, Grime is losing his mind. He’s insane with ecstasy, didn’t even know it was possible to feel that good. But he can’t get it together to help out, or say something, or do anything yet. His mind is a technicolor CG explosion, like a commercial for expensive fruit juice. Meanwhile his grip on his own *redacteds* has firmed into a stiff claw shape, like he’s clutching a stick shift in a muscle car.
Finally, sometime around *redacted* Grime gets his brains back. He says, ‘*redacted*’ Michael is ready and *redacted* Grime knows if he actually *redacted* he’s gonna *redacted* on the spot, *redaaacted*”
“Holy shit, Courtney.”
“So Grime knows it’s basically game over, but he doesn’t wanna go out like a bitch. He’s gotta get Michael to *redacted* somehow. He knows he has practically no chance, but he begs for it, hopes that’ll work. ‘Michael, *redacted* please. I need your *redacted* dude.’ Michael likes that, but will he do it?”
“I don’t know.”
“You could make that up. No pressure. But does he *redacted* first?”
“Yeah, but I can’t say it like you.”
“OK, maybe I can teach you how someday. You can be my bard apprentice. In the meantime, Michael felt his *redaaacted* His mind turned inside out, his mirthful expression went slack as lust stole the blood from his brain, then his eyes bulged and nostrils flared as… I forgot he has a fox head. Let’s say his long pink wet tongue flopped out the side of his mouth and he rolled his muzzle around and his ears went like… helicopters or whatever.
Just for funsies, let’s imagine *redacted* When it’s *redacted* hitting Grime’s *redacted* he feels a thrill *redacted* and he knows he actually won.
He gets each *redacted* in a medium firm grip and they *redacted* For whatever reason, *redacted* Each got *redacted* Grime’s *redacted* was *redacted* but in his excitement, and with his *redacted* it *redacted* A *redacted* in a magic instant, then *redacted* their *redacted* like in the fancy grocery store, where they got those little pipes that spray water on the lettuce heads. You know what I’m talking about? Remember seeing one of those?”
“OK, but it’s *redacted*?”
“Yeah, it’s Grime’s *redacted* and it’s *redacted* He yells in joy and then sucks in his mouth and bugs his eyes. Oops, he thinks, somebody might be around.
Michael *redacted* hastily, but not too fast, just to avoid accidents or discomfort, and uses his tall vantage to look around over the tops of the cubicles. There’s nobody in sight, and he says as much. He takes a wad of tissues out of a box and dabs up the *redacted* on himself while he watches Grime recover.
He’s not recovering fast. When Michael *redacted* the sensation prolonged his *redacted* even more, though there wasn’t much *redacted* left to *redacted* It was kinda pathetic, just his two *redacted* rapidly *redacted* Michael could see Grime’s *redacted* in the crappy green lights and the way they *redacted* Grime’s head lolled and all he could say was ‘oh man’ over and over again.”
“Oh fox man.”
“Good catch. I guess Michael’s probably lapping up the *redacted* from his muzzle and chest, leaving dabbed tongue shapes on his shirt.”
“They didn’t get naked?”
“I don’t remember. That’s a missed opportunity. Coulda said what they look like naked.”
“Fox man and two *redacted* Grime.”
“It’s true.” I exhaled. It would have been a sigh but I didn’t have the strength to muster a good inhale at the beginning, just weakly deflated my shallow lungs. I had to hork down some air a moment later to make up for it.
“You OK, Courtney?”
“Ugh. Sorry. Let’s drink more water.”