taste_is_sweet: (Pills)
[personal profile] taste_is_sweet
Yes, happy campers, I am back in the game and bearing a vignette. This is another scene from my Pape and Danforth universe, for those who might care remember. For them what might be interested, here are the previous scenes in chronological order (earliest at the bottom):

Boots or Hearts
The Old Man at the Window
The Nesquick and the Dead
The Old Lady and her Dog
Pape and Danforth

The theme this week was 'Beat', which did actually have something to do with this, if only in my subconscious. And here is a link to [livejournal.com profile] brigits_flame.

As with all the other scenes in this 'verse, there are huge warnings for really, really bad language.

Thank you very much for reading. I hope you like it.

Charles stood in the cold medicine aisle in Shopper's Drug Mart, hunched over a little because he was still cold after walking all the way from Broadview. Gloria was running late and didn't want to go home by herself. The Shopper's felt like it had only been heated to the bare minimum of human tolerance, and the few clerks still there so near closing time looked chafed and miserable in their grey and red uniforms.

He was trying not to notice the woman further down the aisle, the one examining the boxes of painkillers. She was lifting one brand after another and squinting over the ingredients, rattling the bottle of pills inside. She seemed too young to need glasses, though--blond and lightly pretty in a way that looked like she worked at it. Her skirt was too short for how cold it was. Her thighs were bare and very white.

Charles watched her out of the corner of his eye and mostly kept staring at the boxes of Life Brand Allergy Formula, $4.49 for a bottle of 90 pills. The woman had one of those in her hand, too. The bubbles of pink foam at the corner of the woman's bluish lips were the only sign that she'd probably swallowed every single one.

Charles tore his eyes away from her, carefully fixing them on the clean, white order of the Allergy Formula boxes. He wondered if taking two whole bottles of pills at once would hurt.

Farther down the aisle, past the woman with the foam at her mouth, there was a little girl in a bright purple snowsuit and a white toque with kitten ears. She was all by herself, looking at a large display of leftover Christmas items. The girl put her tiny hands around the ceramic snowman and grinned to herself. Charles looked away again, trying to ignore her, too.
He wondered how she had died; it was far too late at night for anyone to be out with a child.

"Hey," Gloria said. "Did you get the NyQuil stuff?" She nudged him with her shoulder because her arms were full of a box of tampons, a three-pack of boxed tissues, a big jar of Nutella and an even bigger jar of peanut butter. She sniffed, then wrinkled her nose. Charles watched her contort her neck trying to wipe her nose on the shoulder of her wool coat, bobbing her face against the cloth like a pigeon. It looked really painful. Charles wished he had some tissues to offer her, but he kept forgetting to buy them. He'd saved some napkins from his lunch, but they were all balled up and tattered in his pocket.

"That's kind of expensive," Charles said, looking at the Nutella. "Do you have to get that?"

"I like it," Gloria said. She shifted her arms a little, and Charles grabbed the peanut butter before she dropped it. "Thanks," she said. "And it's not like you guys won't eat it." Gloria kept most of her food at Charles' and Josh's apartment, since she barely spent any time at her own place.

"I still don't get why you can't just buy this stuff at Sobey's," Charles said. The dead woman had disappeared, but the little girl was still there, drifting towards the magazine racks. Charles flicked his gaze away, hoping Gloria wouldn't notice him looking at nothing. "I mean, I work there. I get a discount and everything."

"No way," Gloria said. She made a face. "Everyone in there looks, I don't know, like they're all about to die of cancer or commit suicide or something."

Charles thought about the Allergy Formula, 90 pink pills. "It's not that bad," he said. He didn't remember anyone he worked with being unhappy or anything. "It's cheaper."

"Not really," Gloria said, shrugging. She glanced at all the white cardboard rectangles, then at Charles' empty hand. "I told you to get NyQuil."

"I know," Charles said. "Sorry." He walked the few steps to the part of the aisle that had the liquid cold remedies. He snagged the biggest bottle of Shopper's NyQuil knockoff and held it up for Gloria to see. "Here."

Gloria shook her head. "That stuff's crap." She gestured at the lines of NyQuil bottles with her chin. "Get me a real one."

"Fine," Charles said. The store brand was the same poisonous green as the NyQuil, but Charles obediently grabbed it anyway. "I really need you to pay me back for this," he said.

"I told you I would," Gloria said.

"Sorry," Charles said. He looked down at the peanut butter in his hand. 'Kraft' was one of the most expensive brands, too. "Do we still have bread?"

"How the fuck should I know?" Gloria said. "It's your place." She sniffed again, then pushed past him, heading to the cash register. Only one had anybody working at it: a skinny guy with bad acne who was reading a magazine. "Come on. I want to get this shit before the store closes."

Charles followed her. The little girl wasn't at the magazine rack anymore, but there was a crumpled 'People' magazine on the floor. A shiny torn corner of the cover pointed like an arrow towards the store exit, where the little girl was now. The door slid open as Charles watched, and the little girl went out with it. A gust of cold came in as the door closed.

"Oh my God!" Gloria shouted. Charles whipped his head around to look at her. She dropped everything she was carrying into a bin of chocolate bars and took off out of the store.

Charles ran through the sliding doors after her. He slid on an icy patch of the badly-cleared sidewalk, regained his footing in time to see Gloria yanking the child back onto the curb by her arm. The little girl began to shriek.

Gloria lifted the girl into her arms, ignoring the tiny, flailing limbs and what must have sounded like a siren right next to her ear. "Shh. It's okay. It's okay, honey," she said to the girl, then looked at Charles. Gloria's brown eyes were huge. "She was walking into the street! Where the fuck is her mother?"

Charles realized he was staring at her, at both of them. The air in his lungs was very cold. "I--"

The doors slid open again, spilling out a yelling woman.

"Emily! Emily!" The woman grabbed at the child, all but wrenching her out of Gloria's arms. "Oh my God, oh my God, Emily!" she hollered over the child's screams. "You bad girl! You bad, bad girl! Don't you ever do that again!" The woman looked at Gloria. "Thank you," she said. "Thank you, thank you." She started to cry.

"You should keep a better eye on her," Gloria snapped.

The woman looked startled, then angry. She opened her mouth, but just closed it again without saying anything. She threw the trailing end of her expensive shawl around the girl, who was sobbing a little more quietly now, then stalked back inside.

"Stunned cunt," Gloria said, glowering at the closed doors. "Her daughter almost got hit by a car."

"I thought she had," Charles said quietly.

"Yeah, I know what you mean," Gloria said. She sniffed. "I saw the kid going off the pavement and my heart was in my fucking throat, you know? I mean, if we hadn't…." She stopped speaking, stepped closer. "Hey, you all right?"

Charles tried to speak again, but it was like the words were all stuck together somewhere in his chest. He just shook his head.

"Oh, honey, it's okay," Gloria said. She put her hand on his shoulder. "I know--it freaked the fuck out of me, too. But nothing happened. Her mother's a dumbass bitch, but the little girl's fine. We got her before she went into the street."

We, like Charles had anything to do with it.

"I thought she was dead," he said, forcing it out.

Gloria snorted. "Tell me about it. Fuck," she said.

The doors slid open again; the noise was startling. It was the clerk with the acne this time, hugging himself . "You left without paying for that," he said. His breath came out like smoke.

Charles had no idea what he was talking about, then Gloria yanked the peanut butter and NyQuil out of his hands. He hadn't noticed how cold they'd gotten, clutching the plastic.

"Here," she snarled at the clerk, shoving the NyQuil and peanut butter at him. "Go fuck yourself."

"Bitch," the clerk said, but his voice was trembling with cold and he went back inside right away.

"Asshole," Gloria muttered. She took Charles' empty hands. Hers were cold too--she hadn't put her gloves on. "You okay?" she asked him.

Charles swallowed. "I thought she was dead," he said. "You don't understand."

Gloria looked at him, her thin lips pressed white. "This really freaked you out, didn't it?"

"Yeah," Charles said. He nodded, swallowed again. "I didn't see her," he said, because that was the closest thing to the truth.

"It's okay," Gloria said again. "It's okay. She's just fine. Everything turned out all right."

"Sure," Charles said. He managed a tiny, jerking nod, a tiny, flickering smile. "Thanks."

Gloria grinned, pushed his shoulder hard enough that he stumbled a little. "No problem."

"Oh, hey," Charles said, suddenly realizing. "We didn't get any of your groceries."

Gloria shrugged. "We can go to Sobey's," she said. She began walking, pulling on her gloves.

END

(no subject)

5/2/09 04:51 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] lalalaleigha.livejournal.com
Vunderbar! I knew if I pressed refresh often enough an update would come to me.

I'm warming to Gloria.

I still really like Charles.

Gloria had a late shift
Gloria had had, I think.

A shiny torn corner of the cover pointed like an arrow towards the store exit, where the little girl was now.
Yaaaaaaa.
I think perhaps Charles could be premonitionesque.

I'm really excited to see where your plotline goes/leads you. It's a super-engaging series. I find it really neat how you keep interpersonal interaction at the forefront of each increment while advancing the plot each time. Yaaaay Pape and Danforth!

(no subject)

6/2/09 03:42 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Thank you very, very much Leigha. I especially appreciate you giving this the time of day considering I know that Gloria really didn't appeal to you. Though let me say that your warming to her has me chuffed as anything--that's quite a compliment! And I'm thrilled you like Charles.

He's not really clairvoyant. At least, the only dead person he's seen who wasn't actually dead was Josh. That is, if he's actually seeing dead people at all, and not just losing his mind. :)

I hope that I continue to earn your praise with this. Thank you again for reading.

(no subject)

6/2/09 06:47 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] lalalaleigha.livejournal.com
Well, shit.

I am truly sorry I ever gave you the impression that I wasn't interested in the series just because I don't get along with one of the characters. It was not the sticking point I made it out to be. It was a 'this is really good but', not a 'this aspect doesn't appeal to me so'. I always loved the story, where you were/are taking it, and its being-a-series adds all sorts of depth to it that a standalone piece wouldn't have. But I'm pleased that I've redeemed myself somewhat.

I think you mean that you think he's not really clairvoyant. I remain resilient. :)

You're an outstanding writer, Leah. It won't be difficult for you to continue to be a recipient of my praise.

(no subject)

7/2/09 02:16 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Thank you again, Leigha. And I didn't mean to sound like I was fishing for praise...urk.

Anyway, I am very happy that you are indeed enjoying this, and your compliment is awesome. ::beams at you::

(no subject)

7/2/09 01:58 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] innana88.livejournal.com
I knew if I pressed refresh often enough an update would come to me.

You are suchhhhh an LJ junkie.

*cough* I did the same damn thing.

(no subject)

12/2/09 06:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] lalalaleigha.livejournal.com
*whistles innocently*

It's the papers! You know what those papers do. You know better than I what those papers do. Refresh is friendlier than papers.

(no subject)

12/2/09 18:17 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
It's also friendlier than trying to write a novel. :)

(no subject)

5/2/09 08:26 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] innana88.livejournal.com
You may have said this before, but...

I DIDN'T REALIZE YOU WERE WORKING ON A PAPE AND DANFORTH NOVEL!

Wait, are you? Is this the novel?

I'll be back with more feedback. Right now I have to bed, but I'll be back with more feedback.

*facepalm* Shit. I just graduated from the University of Redundancy University.

Hence, bed.
*snort*

(no subject)

6/2/09 03:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Hee hee hee. I hope you slept well while you were sleeping.

Hammered her feet like hammers, baby.

This is, indeed, limping towards noveldom, of a sort. You get to watch me sweat blood over it right here! Aren't you lucky? (Don't answer that.)

Thank you for the promise of feedback! I anticipate it with great anticipation.

(no subject)

6/2/09 03:53 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] innana88.livejournal.com
Smart ass.

HMFMFHDKDJK HMDMEMMMDF MMDFFMMMEMM!

(That was me muzzling myself so I didn't answer that).

(no subject)

7/2/09 01:57 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] innana88.livejournal.com
My muffled response was extreme enthusiasm, by the way. I've never had the opportunity to watch a mightily talented writer put a novel together. I can't tell you how honored I am to be able to see this happen.

Yeah, I'd say I'm pretty damn lucky.

(no subject)

7/2/09 02:11 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Hey, you! Thank you for the comment-a-thon. I have enjoyed it very much. :D

I was also darting to the early versions of the polls to see if there was a new story posted. I'm actually amazed at how many were posted today. I've got a lot of reading to do....

Anyway, thank you very, very much for your enthusiasm and your comments! I'm thrilled that I'm getting Gloria's character across. She intends to pay Charles back, but they both know she won't. And he puts up with it because he's a horrible pushover, and because he adores her.

Thank you for pointing the problem in description out to me. The storefront is actually right on a busy city street, so it's door, sidewalk, curb, potential death by car. Most of the stores on the Danforth don't even have a parking lot, because space is at such a premium. I forgot that such things might be hard to visualize for people who are more used to things like strip malls.

I'm not sure what to do about the similarity to 'The Sixth Sense' either. I mean, you see dead people, you see dead people, you know? These dead people don't actually interact with our hero--with one or two notable exceptions, possibly, the don't even know he's there--but other than not showing any wounds, I'm not sure how it would be obvious that they're dead. I'm also going to make the mechanism by which this is happening clear(ish?) at some point, which will hopefully provide another distinction.

Hopefully I won't get sued, or something.

Anyway, I'm really glad you liked it! I hope you continue to do so.

(no subject)

7/2/09 02:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] innana88.livejournal.com
Yes, but the thing that is so great about the relationship between Charles and Gloria is that I totally get "why" he adores her, which makes the fact that he's a pushover not seem just weak and pathetic. I'd probably buy Gloria groceries, too. :)

So THAT's what Danforth means! Pape and Danforth sounds a bit like a comic book strip. I was wondering about what it means. STREETS! I don't know why I never asked this before. Maybe I got it a few stories back and forgot that I got it. This happens often.

I wasn't trying to say you have to defend your choice of conventions, you know :) Not at all. I'm wracking my brain to see if there's anything that could make it slightly different. If I think of anything, I'll let you know. It may, as I said, be irrelevant and I have full confidence in your originality, so I'm really not worried at all.

(no subject)

7/2/09 03:12 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
I wasn't feeling cornered or anything. :) But since you pointed out something I was also feeling (that the seeing dead folk is similar) I wanted to mention it. But yes, any suggestions you might have to make these unique!original!ghosties would be hugely appreciated. :)

Pape and Danforth are streets, indeed. As a matter of fact, that area is even called 'The Danforth', because it is just that cool. Maybe I'll ask that the novel include a map of Toronto.

(no subject)

7/2/09 02:13 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Oh! I should answer your 'pretty damn lucky'.

Well, shucks. Thank you. :) I can't put every scene into competition, for obvious reasons, but it seems like a great way of working out some details, and using the prompts as inspiration.

(no subject)

7/2/09 02:23 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] innana88.livejournal.com
Yeah, well, I want to read the whole damn thing, regardless of whether or not you put it into the contests.

Just sayin'.

Not only is it damn good and I find myself emitting sounds of glee when you post a new one, but it makes me feel all cool and important. And really, that IS totally what matters. :P

(no subject)

7/2/09 03:08 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Oh, you're gonna read the whole damn thing, if I have to fly to Michigan and corner you in your house hand it to you personally.

You feeling all cool and important is totally what matters. Fr srs.

(no subject)

7/2/09 03:22 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] innana88.livejournal.com
*happy dance*

You can corner me in my house hand it to me personally ANY DAY! I'm not sure what would make me more ecstatic: getting to read your whole novel or actually meeting you in person.

That's a lie. I totally know the answer to that, but reading the whole novel will be very exciting in its own right.

(no subject)

7/2/09 04:32 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
:D

I am totally coming to see you. This will happen. Unless you happen to come by Texas first.

::puts on stalker trench coat::

(no subject)

7/2/09 01:55 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] innana88.livejournal.com
Yeah, I love Gloria. She's totally selfish. I know and Charles knows that she's not going to pay him back, but she's got so many redeeming qualities that you can't help but like her. She's so real. All of these characters are. That's what I love about this series. :)

I love the fact that he and we can't tell when someone is actually dead. It shakes things up.

I have two critiques:

1) It seemed to be awfully fast that the girl disappeared through the doors and Gloria freaked that she was stepping into the street. Usually, there is a parking lot first, unless it is in a strip. Maybe set the scene of the place a bit more clearly so that when it gets to this, no one will be thinking that more time needed to elapse.

2)Right now when he does 'see' dead people, specifically the woman with the pink foam, it does seem to be reminiscent of The Sixth Sense. Maybe a bit too much.

Thing is, every other way that a person can represent someone who might possibly be dead is also a cliche, at least, every other one that I can think of.

I don't know that this will ultimately be problematic, however, because it will really depend on where this goes and how you use it. It could work to your advantage if people are thinking that they know where this is going because of that and then you throw a wrench in their gears.

I do so love this series (this piece included) and I'm excited to see where this goes. Nice work!

(no subject)

9/2/09 15:26 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/____hejira/
Nice piece. Charles was a little confusing, but not necessarily in a bad way. Good luck

(no subject)

9/2/09 16:43 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Thank you. :)

(no subject)

3/11/11 20:14 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mckaysmonkey.livejournal.com
Great story hun.

Seeing dead people is hard enough, but it must be aweful to not be able to tell if people are alive or dead.

Thank god that Gloria was there to save the little girl.

(no subject)

5/11/11 22:07 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Thank you! Yeah, Charles isn't doing so well with his visions right now. Of course, it doesn't help that I haven't quite decided yet if he's seeing real things or just going crazy...

(no subject)

5/11/11 01:17 (UTC)
ext_41469: (APPROVED!)
Posted by [identity profile] tigertale7.livejournal.com
I am loving the direction this story is heading. I'm so stoked there's more to read! I was wondering about the girl and whether she was dead or alive, and I love Charles' confusion and reaction to the whole thing at the end with the girl. Poor Charles.

Also, I love that I have shopped at all the stores mentioned so far. Hee!

(no subject)

5/11/11 22:11 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
I love that you've been reading all of these! Thank you so much! :D

I'm really stoked that you're another Canadian. It makes it extra cool to be able to share these places. :D

Poor Charles indeed. I still haven't decided if what he's seeing is real or if he's actually losing his mind. ;->

(no subject)

6/11/11 02:35 (UTC)
ext_41469: (jgl grin)
Posted by [identity profile] tigertale7.livejournal.com
Alas, I am only an Honorary Canadian, but I wear that title proudly because I love Canada. I've visited enough that I've hit all the major chains in and around Toronto and Vancouver, though. And gotten mostly over the separate Beer Store and milk in a bag. ;-)

I'm so curious as to what happens next! (Damn drugs affecting brain power making me collapse mentally every night. ::shakes fist:: ) Hope to get to the rest tomorrow. =)

(no subject)

7/11/11 02:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
They do sell liquor in grocery stores in Alberta and Quebec. :)

Welcome, Oh, Honourary Canadian! And thank you again for reading my stuff, eh? And maybe we can meet up in Toronto some time.

(no subject)

11/11/11 22:46 (UTC)
ext_41469: (APPROVED!)
Posted by [identity profile] tigertale7.livejournal.com
Well, better late than never, right? ::facepalm::

Hee! I even sing the words to O Canada at hockey games! ;-)

I just want to say that it's always a pleasure to read your stuff, every time, original or fannish. Your writing style is pleasing to my brain. =)

Also, it would be so awesome if we could meet up sometime! I'll buy you a coffee!

(no subject)

13/11/11 04:54 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for the compliment. :D I really appreciate it!

I'd love to have you buy me a coffee! I'd enjoy buying you lunch. ;->

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