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A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story - Literature - Nairaland

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A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MyJoe: 12:14pm On Aug 24, 2010
A MEAN CONSENSUS

By MyJoe

As my wife and I alight from our car, the smoke catches my eye.

We wade through the ogling crowd, who resemble satyrs minding po[i]r[/i]nography, and are presently confronted by the object of their fancy: the smouldering remains of a human! The burning matter is already devoid of spirit, and the skin has turned sable and ripped open here and there, granting you glimpses of inner flesh. The teeth show the ineffable pain that attended the last moments. The face is a graphic pattern of death.

I feel revulsion well up in the pit of me. My revulsion soon gives way to another emotion – the urge to help someone still in great pain – because standing in front of the crowd, facing towards me, is a woman in her early thirties. She carries a handbag on her right arm and, with her left, presses a silk white handkerchief to her nose. The misery in her tear-sodden eyes, I do not wish to ever see again in a human.

Before I fully realise what I am doing, I have abandoned the dead and am by the lady’s side with my right palm on her left shoulder. She apparently does not sense my presence, even the feel of my arm. I lean a little closer to her and say an audible “hello”.

She sobers, sobs and leans her head on my shoulder. As she does so, tears course down onto my shirt. Joy is a few metres beyond. For a moment I am uncertain what to do, losing my mind to the mystery of a burning human, a vulgar crowd, and a sobbing patrician lady. If this were an opening scene created by Ruth Rendell, I would up the temple of my reading.

At this stage, you are probably wondering why I can’t see the obvious. No. The young woman crying on my shoulders is no market folk, and city Brahmins or their consorts do not go around getting the “rubber chain” treatment for petty thieving.

I think quickly. In a moment the fire will go out and the scene here, for the crowd to feast their eyes on, will be a sobbing high society woman, a middle-aged lawyer holding her, and his wife standing nearby. The party helps me out because at this moment, she says, “I want to go home.”

One look at the front of her Mercedes V-boot and I have the whole story. Almost the whole. The front grille is missing. This woman has been robbed of something valuable, but being a witness to the mortal violation of her malefactor has put too much a strain on her sanity.

Can she drive herself home? She says she can. But when she takes the seat, her hands tremble badly. I want to drive her home while Joy shops, but being a careful man, I decide it will be wiser to let my wife accompany her. On second thoughts, I change my mind. I cannot let Joy leave with a total stranger of an unfamiliar address, even if the stranger is a tear-sodden crime victim.

I look at my Joy, a sensible lady, and she nods. The two women get in the backseat while I take the steering. Her place is only about a kilometre away.

Ingrid, that was her name, narrates the story. It happened as I had surmised. Having a motorcycle on standby is not an open sesame to a quick getaway, because motorcycles sometimes tangle with bigger hunks of metal on the road, getting them off balance. The dead man’s accomplice did make it away. Ingrid’s tearful pleas found not a single pair of heedful ears in that medieval crowd. A roadside vulcaniser volunteered a tyre, a danfo bus driver offered some petrol, an idle smoker proffered a match, and an eager passer-by struck it.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MyJoe: 12:18pm On Aug 24, 2010
Please read, critique and criticise.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by vescucci(m): 4:13pm On Aug 24, 2010
Intriguing and opposite of prosaic. Quite vague (I like vague very much but it is not a popular trait with writers) but this is way too short to really critique. I don't even know what genre it's supposed to be. More please?
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MyJoe: 4:52pm On Aug 24, 2010
^^^Thanks for your comments.

Genre: Short short story. I wrote to the instruction "600 words". I did try to use as few words as possible to say a lot, but I hope it's not too vague. Personally, I can see everything I intended to tell clearly conveyed in the words used. But maybe that's just  because I'm the writer? Someone read it and told me it doesn't end. Did you get that impression, too?
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MadMax1(f): 5:38pm On Aug 24, 2010
Yes.
'She sobers' adds nothing to that sentence. I don't get what it means. '', too much a strain on her sanity'. Remove or add a word. Other than that, I like it a lot. It's involving.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MyJoe: 6:12pm On Aug 24, 2010
^^^ Thanks for your comments.

She was lost to the world and so could not hear the man – like sleeping. So she sobers. But should have been “sobers up”. Or perhaps “she stirs” would simply have been better.

Edit:
Right.  too much of a strain or [i]too much strain [/i]would have been better. Thanks.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by DeepSight(m): 7:24pm On Aug 24, 2010
Joey! That's a brilliant write-up, I just love it to bits.

I have seen a 14 year old boy handed the same treatment in Lagos. It made it onto the news. The boy did not die, fortunately, but as you can imagine he will live his life half-roasted. It was horrifying watching his head light up with the flames as he screamed.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by vescucci(m): 7:55pm On Aug 24, 2010
Oh, I'm sorry. I thought the story was a bit of a something more. It suddenly becomes richer as is. I like as you leave some empty spaces for the readers imagination to fill in. A good writer lets the reader's mind work. I thought it vague earlier cuz I thought you'd continue writing like this. Since that's not the case, it's still vague but comes together to good effect with the last paragraph. There was a place I think you meant tempo instead of temple and another you meant 'I'm' instead of 'am'. Nice short short story.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MyJoe: 8:09pm On Aug 24, 2010
@ Deep Sight
Thanks for your comments. It's shocking. Really shocking the jungle justice thing which the government sometimes participates in.

@ vescucci
Thanks for your comments and for spotting the tempo thing! These words get conflated now and then.

On am, I believe you mean this: I have abandoned the dead and [b]am [/b]by the lady’s side with my right palm on her left shoulder.

I think the use of "I" before the am is optional - like He has come in and (he) is standing by my side.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by vescucci(m): 10:42pm On Aug 24, 2010
If you say 'thanks for your comments' one more time, I'm going to slit your throat.

The best advice on writing I've ever got, even though I don't heed it one bit, is keep writing. Write all the time, even if it is jargon.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MyJoe: 11:06am On Aug 25, 2010
^^^ grin
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by Agibecky: 3:50pm On Aug 25, 2010
The best writers in Nigeria are coming and you will not be left out.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MyJoe: 6:58pm On Aug 25, 2010
^^^ Thank you! Thank you!!
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MadMax1(f): 9:46am On Aug 27, 2010
I don't write, but I admire those who do. I've an extensive paper (old school) and digital library. If you're going to write you have to read a lot of Masters, I hear. Do you have authors or titles you want? I'll upload it here as text or pdf for you. Anyone, from Isaac Asimov to Tennessee Williams to John Le Carre to Faulkner to Agatha Christie to Eco to Hemingway to Adichie to James Joyce to Kafka to PD James. Gimme a list of titles you need.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by DeepSight(m): 10:56am On Aug 27, 2010
Oh away with all that high fallutin stuff, do you have city people or lolly?

Have you got "Astonishing the Gods", by Ben Okri?

I would also kill for a copy of "The Sunbird" by Wilbur Smith. Tell me you can get me this, along with a complete set of "The adventures of Tintin" and "Asterix and Obelix" and I will never dispute another one of your dainty incongruities!
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MadMax1(f): 12:38pm On Aug 27, 2010
Ah. A Lolly fan. grin

With the exception of The Famished Road, I have Okri and Smith only in hard copy. But there's more than 4000 titles in the digital library. Things have to be there you haven't read. Try again. But the offer was to MyJoe ke. He's the writer. He needs the 'high falutin' stuff.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by DeepSight(m): 12:41pm On Aug 27, 2010
^^^ Me I no be Lolly fan, I jus dey play o.

Do you really have The Sunbird in hard copy? You have read it? What do you make of it?
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MyJoe: 1:58pm On Aug 27, 2010
Great! Thanks.

I'd like the entire Dostoyevsky (starting with Poor People, and except Crime and Punishment) and Tolstoy and for a start.

Do you have A Psychology of Superstition, by Gustav Jehoda?
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MadMax1(f): 2:42pm On Aug 27, 2010
Spellbinding. Magnificent. It's Wilbur Smith. No one is greater at complex African historical narratives, in blending disparate cultures into the tempestous African terrain, in forcing human nature to yield everything it has, from love to hate to betrayal to hope to despair. Smith is amazing. I have the hard copy of The Sunbird. The book is really old.But let me ask a friend to check his library. I'm sure it'll turn up.

MyJoe, I don't the have Psychology text. I've never even heard of it. I have Tolstoy and Leo's books only in hard copy.

Could you please let me have all the authors you want? I'll then list which books of theirs I have in soft copy. For instance, I have JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. I have 6 titles from Salman Rushdie, 3 from George Orwell, over a dozen of Isaac Asimov and Heinlein, 20 from Stephen King, including the complete Dark Tower series, 10 Aldous Huxleys,11 Vladimir Nabokovs, almost 2 dozen Mickey Spillane, over a dozen Raymond Chandlers, and thousands of other titles. If I have a book in hard copy I don't buy digital copies unless they get lost. Give me a list of the authors you want, I'll tell you which of their books I have, and you select as many as you want. Please do.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by DeepSight(m): 2:53pm On Aug 27, 2010
^^^ On the Sunbird - what do you make of the allussion to immigration of Carthaginians to the southern plains thus rendering them responsible for the intriguing ancient ruins in zimbabwe. . . are you aware there is a massive archaelogical argument about the builders of those cities. . .in general many find it impossible to accept that black africans could have been responsible for the buildings. Do you think the evidence cited for european incursion at the applicable dates stands up in court?

Are there aspects of the book that you find rascist?

Does the book give any compelling insights on Karma and reincarnation - if at all you subscribe to such.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MadMax1(f): 3:15pm On Aug 27, 2010
It's fiction, Deep Sight, not a scholarly text, though the archeological research must have been back-breaking. If you mean how those three re-enact the love triangle of the past, they simply re-enact. A novel is not exactly compelling material for sifting evidence for reincarnation or Karma. I wasn't looking for racist overtones in the book, and I read it and the others too long ago to remember if there were any. So I would have to say No. But there might be racist overtones in the one set in South Africa, I forget the title. Maybe it was Rage. If there are he's certainly lesss guilty than some brazenly racist writers who set their pieces in 'Africa' and write condescendingly about the 'natives', who are never as smart or brave or honourable as the Bwana and his pale friends.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by aletheia(m): 10:00pm On Aug 27, 2010
@MyJoe:
A very nice piece of writing. I think Ingrid is too foreign a name for the setting unless the woman is European. Better impact perhaps if she's unnamed. I agree with Mad_Max that "sobers" contributes nothing to the flow, possibly hints at some sort of inebriation.

@Mad_Max: You are the woman! Quite a rich collection you have got there: Asimov, Heinlein, Tolkien. The Dark Tower Series are possibly for me Stephen King's best writing. This sentence: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." is one of the most evocative opening sentences of any book I have read. Have you ever read the poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came", which forms the basis for the work? Smith's Sunbird brings back memories of a lazy summer holidays delving into a wonderful tale of a lost civilization in the heart of Africa.

@DeepSight:
I can send you Tintin in digital format but unfortunately I can't find the Asterix & Obelix (I 'll keep looking for it though).
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MadMax1(f): 1:19pm On Aug 28, 2010
Gorgeous sentence. I've been following the series for ages, and heard rumours J.J Abrams, who made the Lost TV series, was translating it into film. But I'm not sure it can be done; it's too dark and too complex, and the unbeatable atmosphere won't render well on film. I haven't read the poem itself but he issues pieces of it in the books. The Drawing of the Three, where Roland meets Eddie Dean, and Wizard and Glass, where a manic sphinx of a train has them captive with riddles while Roland's past is explored, would have to be my favourites. Masterful writing. But King's best-written book, for me, is The Stand. It's better than any single book in the Dark Tower series. But the series collectively beat it. The Stand is set in a post-apolycalyptic world where the forces of good and evil gather for a showdown in an incredible set of characters; by far the richest cast in a Stephen King book.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by DeepSight(m): 12:09pm On Aug 30, 2010
aletheia:


@DeepSight:
I can send you Tintin in digital format but unfortunately I can't find the Asterix & Obelix (I 'll keep looking for it though).

PLEASE SEND IT: - I AM WAITING PLEEEEAAAASSSEE!
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by DeepSight(m): 12:14pm On Aug 30, 2010
Mad_Max:

It's fiction, Deep Sight, not a scholarly text, though the archeological research must have been back-breaking.

The book is a direct and deliberate reflection of a serious and raging archaelogical debate regarding the origins of the southern african ruins.

If you mean how those three re-enact the love triangle of the past, they simply re-enact. A novel is not exactly compelling material for sifting evidence for reincarnation or Karma.

Good grief, no: I did not mean to suggest that a novel would be "evidence" for reincarnation, I simply meant to inquire if you found it to be food for thought. As you well know, I am a firm believer in reincarnation.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MyJoe: 2:13pm On Aug 30, 2010
@Mad_Max
Unfortunately most of the books I have always wanted to read are in psychology and history, outside of fiction – other than Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and one or two others I can’t recall right now. But I am likely to undertake a literary course in the near future and your library will almost certainly be immensely useful.

@alatheia
Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by aletheia(m): 2:54pm On Aug 30, 2010
Deep Sight:

PLEASE SEND IT: [Deleted]- I AM WAITING PLEEEEAAAASSSEE!
^Done. The files are rather large, so I uploaded the first 10 out of 30 to Google Docs. You should receive an email with the link. I hope your bandwidth will be able to handle them. I will upload the next 10 when you are done downloading these ones (Just send me an email to let me know when you are done).
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by DeepSight(m): 3:47pm On Aug 30, 2010
Alethia, please can you edit your quote above to delete my email addy, thanks!
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by nuclearboy(m): 8:59pm On Aug 31, 2010
How did all of you arrange to run away from Religion for literature?

@MyJoe:

Morbid, disturbing but nice!

@Aletheia:

I too would like the tin-tin series.

@Mad_Max:

Could you be so kind as to find a copy of "The Everlasting" and send to me (nlbomb@gmail.com)? And if you could get "The Fountainhead" or any of the writings of Ayn Rand,  smiley. Greeks and Trojans?

@Vescucci:

et tu, Vesc?  angry
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by aletheia(m): 10:49pm On Aug 31, 2010
@nuclearboy: check your gmail account. smiley Have provided a link for you to download them from Google docs.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by MyneWhite1(f): 5:36am On Sep 01, 2010
You should read Under the Dome, Kings latest book. It is better than The Stand


Mad_Max:

Gorgeous sentence. I've been following the series for ages, and heard rumours J.J Abrams, who made the Lost TV series, was translating it into film. But I'm not sure it can be done; it's too dark and too complex, and the unbeatable atmosphere won't render well on film. I haven't read the poem itself but he issues pieces of it in the books. The Drawing of the Three, where Roland meets Eddie Dean, and Wizard and Glass, where a manic sphinx of a train has them captive with riddles while Roland's past is explored, would have to be my favourites. Masterful writing. But King's best-written book, for me, is The Stand. It's better than any single book in the Dark Tower series. But the series collectively beat it. The Stand is set in a post-apolycalyptic world where the forces of good and evil gather for a showdown in an incredible set of characters; by far the richest cast in a Stephen King book.
Re: A Mean Consensus - A Short Short Story by vescucci(m): 1:12pm On Sep 01, 2010
Lol. Nuclearboy. You remind me of Julius Ceaser. You'll find that I'm actually a very recent addition in Religion. I didn't know that your kind go there.

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