Play With The Prose 6: Semifinals

“’My past,’ she told the room, ‘is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.’”

“Dad, please stay.” It was a week before Christmas, the beginning of summer in Argentina. Dad, the noted paleontologist Dr. Ted Drumlin, was at his desk.

“I’m sorry, Ellie. Our team…” He turned his chair to face her. “We are so close. We’ve found more bones than ever.”

“But you said finding a skull is almost impossible. They’re fragile. They rarely fossilize.”

“I know, but…”

“Can’t someone else find it?”

He kissed her on the forehead. “Is there anyone better than your Dad?” He winked.

■■■■■

Sheep were grazing comfortably. Antarctic air had left Southern Patagonia. Yet Dr. Drumlin felt a shiver course through his body. He wasn’t used to negotiations, at least outside the museum.

“¿Dónde está el dinosaurio?”

Fabricio Lopez grinned. Ted wondered if it was his terrible accent. Perhaps it was the blonde puta Fabricio had hanging on his arm.

“No sé.”

■■■■■

The government refuses to help. Property rights. The digs continue, but I’m running out of confidence. The rancher must be convinced.

“Eleanor Marie!” She jumped out of her father’s chair. “I told you never to touch my stuff!”

“I know Dad, I just…”

“I respect your privacy, don’t I?”

Ellie’s chest tightened. She opened her mouth, then stopped. She turned away from her father and slammed her door.

■■■■■

“Un millón de dólares.” Ted opened his briefcase as proof.

“Te dije que…” Fabricio sighed. “No sé.”

Ted closed the case. “Let me know if you change your mind.” He turned towards the Jeep.

“Señor.” Fabricio pulled a revolver. “I have.”

■■■■■

A stunning blonde in a cocktail dress entered his home.

“Señorita Ellie. Usted es un sabroso manjar.” Fabricio poured some fernet over ice. She raised an eyebrow. “¿No español?” She shook her head. He gave her the tumbler and poured himself another. “You tasty treat.”

She smiled at him.

The glass shook as Fabricio raised his drink. He downed it quickly. She approached, one hip at a time. She leaned forward to give him ample view of her cleavage, then poured another glass. His eyes diverted, she switched the glasses.

She pointed at her bust. “Treat?”

Fabricio laughed.

■■■■■

The skull was carefully set into place.

“Just spectacular. A testament to life.” The curator turned to her. “Ms. Drumlin. On behalf of the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum, I thank you. You’ve done us…all of humanity a great service. Your father would be proud.”

“Yeah,” Ellie replied. She looked down.

Dreadnoughtus.
Earth’s Largest Dinosaur.
First Full Skeleton.

She caught her reflection in the plaque. The letters blurred.

K: This story really had to work overtime on me, because the opening segment suggested, to me, that Ellie was only about ten years old (she goes by “Ellie,” she says “Dad, please stay,” the kiss on the forehead). So when Ellie shows her cleavage, yikes, I had to do a re-read. I also found it tough to buy that Ellie had the smarts and resources to do this without any prior knowledge of what she was capable of. Still, rushed though it is, it’s a decent story. SILVER

DK: This does a lot of work in a short amount of space, because of all its cuts back and forth, to set up its characters enough so the ending means something. I think it generally succeeds. It’s almost at the point of going too light on any part to get everything necessary, but if it’s not at that point, then it’s got everything you need (says Captain Obvious) and I think the context is there to make it work. SILVER

CP: This ends on a touching note–her father has been vindicated!–but unfortunately the characters are too much like caricatures for me to feel any real connection with them. I also thought there were more section breaks than necessary, which, along with the inconsistent point of view, made the story feel disjointed.

DG: There’s some depth here which I really appreciate. The short sections each move each character forward, which is no easy feat. SILVER

Unbelievably, I finished in second place this week without securing a gold medal. For the second season in a row, I advance to the finals of Play With the Prose. Can I pull out a victory this time? Find out next week!

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