"When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand. "-- Raymond Chandler
The reader reads the first sentence, which is descriptive but not especially exciting. The second sentence must offer more to hold the reader's attention, so spang blackberry juice mynah bird. By the third, the reader feels a fain twitch of longing -- will there be no romance? suspense? deft use of the supernal voice? Or is this one of those boring post-modern experiments, so self-reflexive that its fourth sentence seems to stretch on forever, a numbing ribbon of prose flowing as far as the Firth of Forth?
Fortunately, a lush pair of lips coalesce from the monitor and smack the reader a good one right on the kisser. There may be a little tongue action if the reader likes that sort of thing (fortunately, this story is neuter, so no gender-role shame need attach, if you feel that sort of thing).
By now, the story might feel as oddly comfortable as a new pair of shoes past their initial stretching and squeaking mode. Or it may be almost gone from your consciousness, hanging on by nail extensions and willpower alone, while a torrent of more exciting media lurks behind every click-through.
All in all, when all has been said, and the last modifier sped to its little home on the line, one thing remains. You and the story had this strange, brief, but somehow memorable encounter, and in an exactly a year you will wake up with a start and wonder "Did I read a story like this dream once?" And if so, what odd billiard-neuron collisions in your brain brought this modest epistle back at that moment, while a warm, heavy body slumbers on, half over you?
Causes John Oughton Supports
PEN International, Amnesty International, League of Canadian Poets, POR AMOR, Greenpeace