Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesday Excerpts

Wow, okay, so, I had a plan for today's excerpt, but it was contingent on something I was sure I had once posted. But, alas, I have never done such a thing!

Okay, fine. So, I'll still do it. Because I was out of town and then without a computer, and we missed two Free Write Fridays and a Tuesday Excerpt, not to mention my nice interlude week-day blogs (and I didn't do the "Your Questions Answered" post last weekend, look for it this coming weekend), I will give you the first ever SUPERSIZED TUESDAY EXCERPT!

First things first, if you would be so kind as to travel back in time and read this post from Thursday, April 13, 2006 before continuing on, that would be helpful.

Okay, now that you ()have ()have not (check one) done that, let me explain why I had you do that.

Those characters (well, not Amanda or the girl in the picture, who happens to be Brooke), Banning and Cameron are important. Right. Now, just for reference, you may also want to check out my Thursday, March 23, 2006 post for a little bit of reference to Colin, who is also marginally important, although this is the same Colin from my screenplay, which you may remember was Tuesday Excerpted on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 so you may just want to go there, although as far as continuity in my fictionalized universe goes, it's a bit apocryphal, much like Gene Rodenberry's consideration of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. But really, it's only the events, not the behaviors of the characters in my screenplay, that are in question. But I Digress.

This week's SUPERSIZED TUESDAY EXCERPT will actually be quite a window into my writing process, as you will see three different works in different stages of development. You will see two works in progress, one a mere sketch to cull ideas from and one a very rough first draft. Betwixt these two you will find a more finished piece, one in fact that I count among my most finished pieces. The first two are untitled, the third is from a short story entitled "Momentum" that I may have mentioned once or twice before. The story arc surrounds Banning Jacobs, Colin Fairmount and Cameron Sound, each as they navigate their careers and relationships with each other. It's an intertwined world, but I hope to help you make some sense of it (especially since you read my writing exercise blog from 2006. You didn't? You should!).

Okay, enough dilly-dallying and playing with html coding. (GOTCHA!) Here I go!


from an Untitled Plot Sketch, July 2006

How do Cameron and Banning fit into the Karlston, MO crew?

William, Colin and James are the three big players there. Obviously, as James and Colin are big into cycling, and on the University of Minnesota cycling team, they would have raced against Banning at Nationals, assuming, of course, that all three of them made it.

Well, all three of them did make it to the 2005 nationals in Lawrence, KS. That is where they unofficially meet. In a tense situation during the road race, Xavier and Zach Houston (also from Karlston, twin brothers both racing for Syracuse University in New York), Zack Cohen (riding for St. Louis University), Colin, James, and their team mate Ryan Bresden all broke after seven miles. The Karlston Crew (as they were later called in newspaper reports) broke at an incredible pace, and worked well together. The ultimate goal was to give a national win to James, who was being courted by a team called Momentum-Waterford; they knew a win of this caliber would certainly land him a contract.

Banning, suspecting that the break was more organized than a usual break, jumped off the front of the main bunch, taking several riders from various teams with him. One by one, the riders who came with him fell off the back, unable to match his speed. He finally caught the break with five miles to go.

It didn’t stop there, though. He continued his pace, causing alarm amongst the Karston Crew. James caught Banning’s wheel, followed by Colin and Ryan, but the others were unable to latch on. Trying to step up the tempo, Xavier soon found himself isolated, as Zach and Zack fell back.

For two miles, Banning cooperated with James, Colin and Ryan until Colin, taking a turn up front, began to crack. Sensing this, Banning jumped off the front with a fierce pace. James countered with a push of his own and soon caught Banning’s wheel. Ryan couldn’t match and ended up isolated as well. Xavier soon overtook Colin, who could not latch on, but when Xavier caught Ryan they worked together until the crossed the line, Ryan in third and Xavier in second.

Banning won the race, but there was no grand sprint. A quarter mile before the finish line, James took the outside line on a left hand turn, but cut too close to Banning. Banning’s right foot clipped James’ left, causing Banning to wobble a little and causing James to run off the course and into a row of bushes. He came out with only a few scratches, but finished seventeen seconds after Banning. Team Momentum-Waterford, who had also been eyeing Banning, decided not to extend a contract to James, but did extend a contract to Banning.


from "Momentum" November 2005

“Stop playing the tape,” Matt sighed to himself as he watched his roommate Banning crash his bicycle for the umpteenth time. The scene froze, and then reversed itself at double speed. Matt could see the television in the living room through the open door of his bedroom. He couldn’t see Banning, but he knew that if he got up to look he would find him laying chest down on the couch, right arm dangling to the ground clutching the VCR remote, head cocked to one side so he could get a good view of the screen. Matt shrugged and went back to his homework.

“Here comes Banning Jacobs of Team Momentum-Waterford round the penultimate turn in this year’s Colorado Classic, and what a race this young man has had today, right Bob?” Matt mouthed along with Phil Ligget’s commentary.

“Absolutely,” Bob Roll responded, “this cyclist has definitely proven himself today, and a virtual nobody before this year’s race. He has shown strength all day, breaking early and staying ahead of the attacks; he’s just had a brilliant ride.”

It was coming any second now. Matt fought hard not to watch but he did, as he had every time.

“Here he comes to the one hundred meter marker, and around the turn and—oh my!”

“Oh,” Bob Roll interrupted Phil Ligget’s exclamation as Banning went down hard, his right leg underneath his bike as the pavement scarred his thigh. Matt cringed again as he watched Banning hit the portable fence surrounding the course and was thrown bodily upward. That was when he had fractured his collarbone for sure.

The scene froze itself again as Banning rewound the tape once more. Matt stood up and entered the living room.

“Stop playing the tape,” he said, trying to look intimidating with his hands on his hips and his lower lip shoved outward. Banning glanced at him once before stopping the tape.

“My mother used to stand like that, Grogan. It was very effective in my younger days.” Banning put the VCR remote down and picked idly at some fluff on the carpet. “I’m probably driving you pretty nuts, aren’t I?” He looked again at Matt.

“Are you going to call your uncle back today?” Matt asked, now trying to look stern and disapproving with his arms crossed and his eyes narrowed. Banning just gave a noncommittal shrug. “Are you going to do something today? Maybe take a bike ride, or a meal, or do me a favor and take a shower?”

“No, I’m probably going to lay here rehashing the race all day. I might drink some water a little later when I take my pain pill.” He pressed play again. “Oh, and I’ll most likely go to the bathroom. You won’t want to miss that one.” The commentary started again.

Matt walked into his bedroom and slammed the door. Banning watched himself hit the ground again, and again, before Matt emerged wearing a thick sweater. “Call me when you decide to be pleasant again. I’ll mail you my share of the rent if it takes that long.” Matt flung open the door of their apartment and marched into the hall, gently closing the door behind him. Banning didn’t bother to get up and lock it as he rewound the tape once more, not paying attention but playing back what had happened after the crash.


“Think about my life,” Banning said, making room for his large steak as the plate was set before him. He inhaled the steam and paused in a moment of ecstasy. “That,” he said, “is awesome. I’d pay fifteen bucks just to smell that for an hour.” He dug his fork into a section and cut into the meat. He very slowly lifted the fork so that the piece of steak was under his nose, inhaled the steam once more, and slowly closed his eyes and put the hunk of steak into his mouth.

He chewed with his eyes closed for thirty seconds. When he opened his eyes, he saw her staring at him, idly stirring the Bloody Mary she had been nursing for half an hour. He suppressed a laugh and politely indicated he would be with her in a moment. Once finished swallowing, he picked up his napkin and wiped his lips. “Pardon me,” he said apologetically, but with a strange smile on his face. “I haven’t had steak since I was fifteen years old.” Stefanie stopped in mid-stir. Her jaw slowly dropped. “Think about my life,” Banning said again. “When I was ten, my uncle took me to a bike race in Minneapolis. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen and the next thing I know, I’m spending every available minute riding my bike with him. At twelve, I was going thirty miles a day, minimum. I have probably logged more miles on my bike since I turned sixteen than I have driving a car. I have seven bicycles. Seven bicycles, and each one for a different purpose.”

He paused and took another bite of steak, followed by a few fries and a large gulp of soda. “Fried foods, red meat, soda, all out the window. They hinder performance. For six years, I’ve eaten nothing but carbs and simple proteins like chicken and peanuts. Everything that went into my body went in so I could get the most back out of my body. And now, I don’t care.”

“So this is some sort of cathartic release, is it?” Stefanie said, finally digging into her pasta. Banning nodded affirmative through a large piece of steak. “But you quit school to race. Now what are you going to do?”

Banning shrugged.


“Okay, so what now?” she asked him, her eyes narrowing.

“Tomorrow I wake up Banning Jacobs, semi-professional bike racer, and I go and join my team.” They arrived at her car and he opened her door for her. She stood outside, frowning.

“So, I guess tonight was just a good night. Just a fluke. Is that all?” She glowered at him.

“It wasn’t the life that got to me,” he replied, staring back into her eyes. “It was the terms, I told you that. I’m not the best guy on that team, see, and now I can live with that and accept it and have nobody tell me otherwise. Then maybe I can actually grow and become the best guy on the team.” She lowered her eyes and got into the driver’s seat. He ran around to the passenger side and opened the door. He sat down and shook the cold air from his face as he shut the door and put on his seat belt.

“So, no more dinners? No more ‘dates’ either?” She had the key in the ignition, her hand ready to turn but she just sat still, staring ahead. He sensed a small flash of anger in her voice, and wasn’t sure how to handle it.

“Stefanie, I have a career in racing, I’ve got a contract with the team for another year, I can’t just walk away from my life.” He wasn’t sure why, but he felt he had to be defending himself.

“It’s just you invite me out, you say all these wonderful things, you stare at my tattoo all through dinner and tomorrow you’re back to the way you were.” She was still wearing his windbreaker, and she closed it to hide her tattoo.

Banning was at a loss. “What do you want me to say? That tomorrow I’ll devote myself to you and you alone? Are you going to start the car, it’s cold.” He shivered, and then tried his hardest to look angry.

“All I ever wanted,” she said, starting the car and putting it in gear, “was to be a part of your life. Anything; friendship, confidence, but something more than a bit part. I’m a walk-on cameo in the life Banning Jacobs. Do you want me to know who Mario Cippolini is? Because I do, okay? He’s the Italian King of the Mountains and he dresses up like an Arabian Sultan in these ridiculous Northwave Shoe ads full of half naked women.” She really did look angry. He cowered in the passenger seat and she glared at him. “You told me all about him the night I met you; you had a picture of him on the door of your dorm room and I just asked who he was and I got his life story. But you told it so well, I remembered it, and here it is tonight, and I finally thought I had remembered it for a reason but no, fine, I’ll just take you home and tomorrow, while you’re passing mile marker number seventy, think of me.”

She pulled the car out of the parking space and in silence, drove for half a mile. Banning noticed she never took her right hand off the gearshift and he tentatively placed his left hand on top of hers. “I will,” he said. “Mile seventy.”

The headlights briefly reflected in a sign which had a picture of a bicycle and read simply “Share the Road.” Somebody had plastered a bumper sticker across the picture, and Banning registered what it said. “Momentum-Waterford: Eat Momentum, Drink Momentum, Do Momentum. Ride Momentum.”


from an untitled draft, August 2006

Banning maintained, throughout the scandal, that he was being unfairly persecuted, that he had admitted his mistake and should therefore be granted leniency, and that he had names of others. His former teammates denied any knowledge of such activities, and the Team Director released a statement indicating that Banning had consulted doctors other than Dr. Duchesne, the team’s doctor.

“It’s true,” Banning admitted in what was his seventh interview in three weeks. “I had an outside doctor. I’ve given his name and I give it again; Dr. Elias Kent. He ran a Sports Medicine clinic in Denver, but it’s been shut down pending investigations. I’ve also given the names of other athletes I met at his clinic, including Joseph Steele, the former Junior Olympic Hundred Meter Dash champion, and fellow cyclists Max Doss and Ryan Bresden, among others.”

Cameron snapped another picture as an AP reporter asked a question. Cameron only heard the response.

“I’ve given my full cooperation to the United States Anti-Doping Agency as well as the WADA. You all know, as soon as my A sample came back, I admitted to wrongdoing. As you are also all aware, every one of my previous samples came back clean. This was my first and last time doping, and I apologize to everybody; my former team, my sponsors, my competitors, and most especially, the fans. Yes, in the back.”

Cameron listened as Colin Fairmount, the reporter to which he was assigned, cleared his throat beside him before asking his question.

“Banning, this is somewhat off subject, so forgive me for asking,” he began.

“No, go ahead,” Banning said, the corners of his mouth turning up slightly, almost smiling.

“This goes back four years, to the 2005 Collegiate Nationals. Specifically, the road race. That was such a spectacular ride, and you did it on sheer grit and determination. What’s happened in your career recently that made the idea of doping so attractive?”

Cameron snapped another picture of his former roommate, sitting in front of half a dozen microphones. He was definitely smiling at this point.

“Well, Mr. Fairmount,” Banning began, “I got dropped in a race in which I felt very good. In fact, I got dropped in a race by the man I beat in that national road race, James Evans. He completely blew apart the field, and that started me on a hot streak of losses. I felt I had to do something, and Ryan Bresden, whom I think used to be a teammate of both you and James if I remember correctly, took me to his doctor.”

“Well, certainly getting dropped in one race isn’t enough to cause somebody to cheat, now, is it?” Colin asked. Cameron put his hand on Colin’s shoulder, causing Colin to turn.

“Watch it,” Cameron cautioned.

“Like I said,” Banning stated after a pause, “that one race shattered my nerves, more so than the crash that ended my season last year. I was at my strongest and James destroyed my spirits. I was desperate. As I recall, Colin, you were dropped many times at the top of your form. You didn’t feel the need to somehow step it up by any means necessary? Maybe you should get up here and explain why you didn’t race in the 2006 Collegiate season.”

There was a hush in the room. The seconds ticked away while Banning stared at Colin, and Colin stared right back at him.

After the press conference, while Cameron was packing up his camera, he watched Colin sit, stone faced and motionless while the other reporters mingled. “Come on, Colin, let’s go get a beer,” Cameron said.

“I thought you were meeting with Banning,” Colin muttered.

“And I thought you wanted to meet him,” Cameron answered. “Come on, you had to know he’d throw that in your face.”

Colin turned to face Cameron. “Did you know he would?” When Cameron shook his head yes, Colin’s eyes narrowed. “How? How did you even know about it?”

Cameron shouldered his camera bag and shrugged. “Google is a powerful tool, Colin. Also, did you think that Banning wouldn’t have given me a detailed account of the Nationals? Your crew scared him to death. He was shocked when he got the offer from Momentum. He thought that even with his strong ride, the fact that your friends had given such a spectacular performance would have stolen the show. He swears that he wouldn’t have won if James hadn’t crashed, and then he wouldn’t have landed his contract. He kept tabs on all of you, even after he quit school, just in case he had to face you again.”

“It sounds like he gets scared pretty easy,” Colin said, closing his notebook and stowing it in his messenger bag. “He got scared because six people from three different teams broke early and stayed out. I remember when he crashed in the Colorado Classic, he was scared by the prospect of winning a big race like that. He gets dropped and beaten at the top of his form, and he gets scared. Christ, what isn’t Banning Jacobs scared of?”

“The truth, and I think he’s proved that over the last three weeks. Now come on, I told him we’d both meet him at five, and we’ve still got to get back to the hotel so I can get these pictures sent off and you can assemble your story.”

Colin begrudgingly stood and packed his remaining things.

Obviously, you can tell from the date of August 2006 that I had doping on my mind, with the Landis Affair and all. And I was thinking of all of this recently with the Tour going on again, and the new revelations within the Pro Peleton both past and present. Well, there it is.

If anybody has any questions for me, get them in soon so I can answer them all this weekend. Tomorrow, I'll have a post of some sort and then I'll ask for suggestions, so be thinking of those too.

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster. -Isaac Asimov


the wife said...

How much more of this story do you have? I know I am the wife and you won't believe me as an objective bystander, but why not write this as a book- the characters are really strong, the plot is interesting and I want to read more- all seem like good reasons to pursue it- it has potential. (PS- I like it better than the story before yours in the Currents and more than the Biggy Smalls play).

Elliot said...

MORE than the Biggie Smalls Play?

But that's like your most favorite thing ever that you've read! You wanted to ditch me and sleep with that play I'm pretty sure!

I will answer your questions this weekend in my Your Questions Answered Blog.